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November 7, 2012
They are the best of the best. The players wanted by every program and destined to make a big impact at the college level and beyond. Rivals.com has identified the first five-star prospects for the 2014 class and is unveiling them this week. Ten prospects have been awarded five-stars but are not ranked at this time and we will profile two each day. One of today's five-stars is Woodbridge (Va.) Woodbridge Senior defensive end Da'Shawn Hand.
Da'Shawn Hand, DE, Woodbridge (Va.) Woodbridge Senior
Attributes: 6-4, 245, 4.81 40
Scouting Report: Hand is a unique prospect who is remarkably athletic, explosive, and quick for his size. He has a frame that still has room to fill in and is learning more about the game every day. There aren't many things he can't do. His greatest strengths are the combination of his explosiveness off the line and his amazing balance. He plays with excellent leverage and is too quick for offensive lineman, able to beat them around the outside and to the inside gap on a very consistent basis. Once he gets to the ball-carrier or quarterback, Hand rarely misses a tackle and is always a threat to knock the ball loose with a bone-crushing hit. His agility allows him to work in space, and he is able to rush from depth because of his speed. When Hand doesn't make a stop in the backfield, he takes the right angle of pursuit to chase down the ball-carrier.
Analyst's Take: "Hand is such a unique player and there are so many things he does well. His combination of speed off the line, balance, agility and overall athleticism is just too much for any offensive lineman to handle. On pass plays, Hand has a large arsenal of moves to get to the passer, and on run plays he is quick to read and react. Hand's versatility is one of his more valuable qualities. He has the speed and agility to play in space, the explosiveness to rush off the edge and the strength to play inside. Hand is relentless in his pursuit and is often found making big plays downfield. One thing that stands out about Hand, other than his speed, is his strength. Even when he is double or triple-teamed, he is still able to shake off the blockers and make big plays." -- Adam Friedman, Mid-Atlantic Analyst, Rivals.com
Why He's A Five-Star: "Hand is a rare athletic specimen who has incredible body control and balance for a big rush end and is very hard to knock off his feet. He's very quick off the snap, has a nice array of pass-rushing moves and he strings the run out well by taking on blocks and shedding at the proper time. He beats defenders so easily at times it looks like he's going at half speed, and his willingness to play defensive tackle for his team as a junior and take on triple teams while still being effective speaks to his team-first attitude and character. He's the most rare pass rusher since Jadeveon Clowney and has the potential to be as dominant in college." -- Mike Farrell, National Recruiting Analyst, Rivals.com
His Coach Says: "Hand is such a special player because he is so humble and he doesn't have a big ego. It's refreshing nowadays, when many of the top players aren't normally humble like him. He is a total team player and he is a hard, tireless worker. He is always watching film and studying his game. He always asks questions about how he is doing and what he can do better. He's somebody that can put his hand on the ground and attack off the edge because he's so quick and agile. He could work in space if he is asked to do so. There isn't much he can't do physically and he's an extremely hard worker. He also plays some inside defensive tackle for us. I think it goes hand in hand with his educational background. He has the physical tools and he's very gifted, so my expectation as his high school coach is for him to develop his leadership skills. A lot of kids won't like to be leaders. I've told him, the situation he's in and the way the spotlight is on him, he has no choice but to become a leader. Everybody is going to look up to him and watch him so the more he can lead, the better." -- Woodbridge Senior coach Kevin Smith
Odds And Ends: Hand came to high school wanting to be a middle linebacker. ... He recorded 65 tackles, five tackles for a loss, three sacks and three fumble recoveries as a freshman. As a sophomore, Hand had 84 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 21 sacks and three fumble recoveries. ... Hand is studying to become an engineer. ... He did more than 100 pushups to win that contest at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge.
NFL Player Comparison: Julius Peppers, Chicago Bears