Philadelphia, Pa. defensive line prospect Derrell Hand certainly traveled some miles this season visiting colleges across the country.
"I've been all over," said Hand of his visit destinations. "Basically, we went with two coaches and three other prospects and we went to a lot of schools.
"We visited Penn State, Syracuse, Boston College, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Indiana and Iowa."
We asked Derrell if they traveled all those miles in a car. "Yep, we drove everywhere," Hand said. "It was fun though. Marques Slocum was one of the guys with us and I really got to know him a lot better.
"It was exciting to go see all these places--see all the stadiums and campuses. We got to meet a lot of great coaches and great people. We got to see a lot of college guys working out and that really motivated me. Now I know how hard these guys work and I'm motivated to be the best player I can be."
Hand said he did pick up a number of offer along the way during his travels.
"I have offers from Iowa, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Indiana, Boston College and Syracuse," Hand said. "All of those are in writing. I have a bunch of verbal offers from other schools."
Notre Dame was one school that stood out along the way according to Hand.
"I loved it there," said Hand of Notre Dame. "The facilites, the stadium, the campus, it's a site to be seen. I got to meet a lot of the coaches and spoke with coach Willingham for quite a while.
"Meeting coach Willingham was my favorite part. You can tell he is really determined to get the train going for Notre Dame again. He's a very impressive man."
We asked Hand which schools were his favorite places to visit along the trip. "I'd say Miami, Iowa, Notre Dame and Michigan State," Hand said. "We also went to Michigan and we got to see the Big House--that was pretty cool."
The plan now is for Hand to narrow his list down to five schools and then start taking visits.
"I'm going to sit down with my coach and my family and try to come up with a top five this week," Hand said. "I will then take my official visits during the season so I can get a feel for how things are at each school."
Hand did tell us of three teams likely to make his top five at this point. "I think Notre Dame, Michigan State and Iowa will make my top five for sure," he said.
Hand says most teams are recruiting him for defense at this point. "Pretty much everyone is saying defense," said Hand. "Only a very few have talked about offense. They are saying defensive line."
We asked the Philadelphia native what would be important to him when choosing a school.
"I think the environment will be important--if I get that vibe from the school and the people on campus. Also, academics will be important to me," Hand said.
Does his family have any favorites at this point? "Yeah, my Mom likes Notre Dame and Michigan State the best," he said.
Comments: It appears the Irish made a very positive impression on Hand. He says he plans to take a number of visits before deciding. Expect the Irish to get a visit and we think Notre Dame will be in the race until the end.