The Michigan coaching staff had made a favorable impression on Da'Shawn Hand long before he stepped foot on campus this weekend thanks their ability to build a strong rapport with him over the phone and through social media. But when the Woodbridge, VA star finally stopped in Ann Arbor for the first time, the Maize & Blue took things to another level.
“It was the coaching staff,” Hand said, reflecting upon what stood out most. “It was my favorite coaching staff. A lot of charisma. They’re just fun guys to be around. You can tell by looking at the players. All the players are comfortable talking to the coaches. A lot players (at different schools) say, ‘man I can’t stand this coach.’ And also when practice is done they can’t wait to leave. But the (Michigan) players… it seemed like they want to stay around. They don’t mind being around their coaches.”
Hand certainly didn’t mind being around the Michigan coach with which he has built the strongest bond. The five star prospect’s excitement about Greg Mattison had already received a significant boost when he learned that the veteran coordinator would double as his position coach. The chance to interact with Mattison in person made the idea of playing for him all the more intriguing.
“Coach Mattison is the man,” Hand exclaimed. “That dude is a genius. The things he teaches his players… it’s so simple, but it amazing at the same time because it works. His defensive scheme is real creative, it’s real tricky, and he likes the bring the house. I respect that. He has a lot of different blitz packages with looping and stunting, and I love that because you’ll never get bored during the game.”
Mattison’s impact, while palpable, was by no means the only memorable connection Hand made. From Brady Hoke, to the players, to visiting commitments … there numerous Wolverines that contributed to a trip Hand called outstanding.
“Coach Hoke is a good guy,” stated the nation’s #2 defensive end. “He is full of energy as well, and he is just a nice guy overall. The entire coaching staff is kind of similar. They’re nice and are good people to be around. It’s fun to talk to them more and more.”
“The player I hung out with was Blake (Countess). That dude is the man! He is well known around campus, very positive, and he is a good guy that likes to have fun. Plus he is from around the same area that I’m from.”
“The recruits that I talked to were Khalid (Hill), Shane (Morris), and Michael (Ferns). They took it easy on me. I met Michael and Khalid for the first time, but Shane… me and him already knew each other, so it was nothing but love.”
All told, the football portion of the visit couldn’t have gone much better. Thanks to Sports Management professor, Mark Rosentraub, the same can be also said about the academic portion.
“That guy was blowing us away,” Hand said. “The things he was talking about... I just wanted to sit there in the class. Man! Oh my goodness… I just want to listen to him. He is good guy to be around. To hear him talk was really amazing. He knew his stuff. The coolest things was when you walk in he has a bunch of hats from different professional teams, and all those teams are teams that he has helped build their stadiums and stuff. It was cool.”
There only one visit contributor that received a grade less than excellent. Mother Nature.
“I woke up in the morning and I was like, ‘whoa’,” Hand said laughingly. “It was all white. But it cleared up and I wasn’t really sweating it. Of I was joking with them saying,’ man it’s cold’… but I wasn’t really sweating it.”
Needless to say, the Wolverines fortified their position on the All-American’s list, but he is still a long way away from anointing a definitive favorite.