WOODBRIDGE, Va. -- Da'Shawn Hand is taking his talents to Tuscaloosa.
Considered the top football recruit in the country, the senior defensive lineman for Woodbridge High School announced his university decision on Thursday in LeBron James style: A live-streamed student assembly surrounded by a cheering student body, dancing cheerleaders and the pep band playing the school song.
"It was a long process, but next year I will be attending the University of Alabama," Hand said, putting on a Crimson Tide cap.
Hand had narrowed down his decision to three universities and chose Alabama over Michigan and Florida. He was complimentary of each, but said Alabama was the best fit.
"They got a winning tradition," he said. "Why not go where it's a great possibility you can win a national championship?"
The Prince William County high school has been the focus of national attention over the past four years as Hand has risen to become the nation's top college recruit, reports The Washington Post. His fans have been awaiting Thursday's announcement, which fell on Hand's 18th birthday.
The Post says some teachers had mixed feelings about the attention lavished on Hand for the pep rally, especially when dozens of other students will be accepting full scholarships. Some mentioned concerns about the classroom time being sacrificed.
But the students were excited, many of them calling Thursday "Da'Shawn Day," says the Washington Post.
Hand, who is 6-feet-four inches tall and weighs 256 pounds, said Thursday he did not base his decision solely on football. He stressed the balance of sports and academics that made the school appealing.
"They offer the best of both worlds," he says. "I love civil engineering and they have that major."
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