Hand Counting Down the Days

Philadelphia, Pa. defensive lineman Derrell Hand is counting down the days to graduation. The 6-4, 305-pound Hand still has a few days left before he gets to walk across the stage to pick up his diploma. We spoke with the future Irish defensive tackle to see what he's been up to since signing his letter of intent with Notre Dame this past February.

Like many of us who've been in his shoes before, Derrell Hand says he's just trying to lumber through his last few days of high school.

"I've been trying to stay in shape and trying to stay out of trouble," said Hand with a laugh. "I'm just counting down the days as I get ready to graduate."

Hand says the final few weeks have been challenging.

"We are finished on the (June 11)," he said. It's been pretty hard to stay focused, but I'm getting through it. I'll be glad when this is over."

The West Philadelphia high school star says he can't wait to pick up his diploma so he can move on to his next challenge—college and football at Notre Dame.

"Yeah, it will be a long time coming," said Hand when asked if he'll be happy to close his high school career. "I'll be glad to finally graduate and move on to college."

Hand won't have many days to sit down and relax between graduation and reporting to Notre Dame for summer school, but that's fine with him.

"Yeah, that's the only bad thing, but it's a great opportunity to get started and to get ahead of the crowd," said Hand when asked about his shortened summer vacation. "It'll be nice to get used to my surroundings before everything really begins.

"I'm very excited about it. I'm anxious to get out there and get started on my college career."

Does Hand have any exciting plans for the few days he does get for summer vacation?

"Not really, I might attend a few parties and just hang out with my friends," he said.

Hand said he hasn't been doing much other than trying to stay in shape in preparation for fall camp.

"They gave me a workout book," said Hand of the Notre Dame coaches. "It's been awhile since I've been on a scale so I don't know what I weigh, but I've been working out pretty hard. I'm trying to get into great shape so I'll be ready."

We asked Hand if he was nervous knowing he'd be leaving for school soon.

"Not really," Hand said. "It's time to start over again. I'm prepared for it. I'm looking forward to it."

Derrell reminded me of my last week of high school. That must've been the longest week of my life and I'm sure you can relate. He was still in pretty good spirits though and looking forward to his future at Notre Dame.

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