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June 7, 2013

Defensive linemen take the spotlight


MORE: Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge

CHICAGO -- Da'Shawn Hand is at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge presented by Under Armour to secure his top ranking.

With a defensive line group this loaded, the Woodbridge (Va.) Woodbridge Senior five-star is going to have to bring his best effort, and he sounds prepared to do just that.

"I just want to dominate," Hand said. "I feel good. I feel great so I just want to come out here and have fun so I'm ready. We're all friends. It's all friendly competition."

There were a lot of smiles and wise-cracking during Friday's registration. Saturday at Soldier Field, it'll be different.

Hand, who has a top five of Alabama, Florida, Michigan, South Carolina and Virginia Tech, was at the Five-Star Challenge last year, so he knows the ropes. Once the players hit the field, Hand knows it's on.

"Everybody wants to be the best so we're going to be competing," Hand said.

Hand headlines an outstanding defensive line group that also features five-star Andrew Brown, five-star Lorenzo Carter, high four-star Derrick Nnadi and many others.

Nnadi, a 6-foot-1, 299-pounder from Virginia Beach (Va.) Ocean Lakes who's rated second at defensive tackle by Rivals.com, is already all business.

Rated No. 34 overall, Nnadi has been preparing for the Five-Star Challenge for months and he's ready to go.

"A lot of these linemen have a lot of talent," Nnadi said. "There is a lot of competition in the country. You know you have to bring it all out.

"I've been working hard for this. If I'm not the MVP, at least make me a five-star. That's what I've been working all offseason. If I'm not No. 1, that's fine with me but I know I'm a good football player.

"If I do as well as I hope to do, there will be a lot of eyes on me. If I don't, I'm going to be right in the trash can."

Nnadi is taking this seriously. Andrew Brown was taking a different approach.

The top-rated defensive tackle and seventh-best player by Rivals.com was loose during registration day, but that should change Saturday morning. Brown was at the Five-Star Challenge last year, too, so he knows what's going on.

Brown knows if he's not ready, he could get exposed.

"It's fun," Brown said. "I'm just here to have fun and compete. I'm just feeling good. I'm feeling really good right now."

It's expected he'll be a little more focused at Soldier Field.



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