Rivals.com rated Da’Shawn Hand as the #1 overall prospect in the nation as he racked up over 100 tackles and 16 sacks in his senior season alone. He famously chose Alabama over Michigan, citing Alabama’s engineering program as the variable that tipped the scales for him.
With players like A’Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed, and Jonathan Allen manning the line, Hand was viewed as a promising prospect with the luxury of sitting behind some prominent names and learning the game from them while he grew into a starting role. As a freshman, he carved out playing time in 9 games and even picked up two sacks.
As a sophomore, he moved on from just a mop-up duty guy to a key reserve and interior pass-rush specialist when the starters were winded. In the 2015 championship thriller against Clemson, Hand became a defacto starter, as the high-octane DeShaun Watson-led offense gave fits to the bigger linemen ahead of him. Hand played for most of the game, and came up with a few huge tackles in the backfield to stall the Clemson offense.
As a junior, his role didn’t really change as he continued to spell Jonathan Allen, as he did the year before. He was a major part of the rotation, especially on passing downs, but was never a feature piece nor a starter. In his words, it was a humbling first three years, especially for someone as highly acclaimed as he was in high school.
As a senior in 2017, Hand finally got his chance to be a full-time starter. He was never quite an impact player, but he was a solid, stalwart senior that rarely missed an assignment or let a play past him. His career was nearly cut short by a dirty cut block to his knees against Ole Miss, but he only missed three games... though he was visibly limited for a few more games after that as well.
In his 4 years at Alabama, he totaled 64 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 1 pass breakup. It wasn’t the stellar career he had envisioned, but it was a solid one. He was trained and taught by the best, and will now have the opportunity to put that together with his natural physical talents in the pros.
We wish you the best of luck, Da’Shawn, and I hope you find ways to keep terrorizing Clemson players in the pros. Roll Tide!