TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama football coach Nick Saban spoke at length Thursday about how the team plans to handle Da’Shawn Hand’s DUI arrest. “If he does everything he’s supposed to do, he will not be suspended,” Saban said.
Saban said he respected the police officer’s decision, and understood why the arrest was made. Saban said his comments were in “no way” directed at the police.
“Da’Shawn put himself in a bad situation, obviously made a mistake being where he was at the time,” Saban said following practice Thursday. “But the fact that he didn’t drive the car — which is what we tell the players not to do. It’s not OK with me that he was drinking, and that’s a behavioral issue that needs to be addressed and we will address it.
“But the fact that he didn’t drive the car, he did not put other people at risk — which is to me the most significant thing when you drive under the influence. But he didn’t drive. But they had every right to do what he did.”
Hand was at practice on Thursday afternoon leading his group through drills along with Da’Ron Payne.
Hand totaled 21 tackles with 3.5 for loss and 2 sacks as a junior in 2016. He added 5 quarterback hurries and 1 forced fumble.
Saban said he had two choices in Hand’s situation.
“I could punish the guy for putting himself in a bad situation, but making a pretty good decision after he put himself in that situation,” Saban said, “or we could take the situation that he put himself in — which was drinking — and have him assessed for that and try to help him so that he can make better choices and decisions for the future.
“Rather than worry about the punishment part of it, we put him in 48-hour in-patient for assessment purposes. Professional people will assess what he needs to do, what we need to do with him and that’s what we will do with him because he put himself in that situation.”
Saban also said Hand must complete community service, police ride arounds and other things to complete his punishment.
“I think what we’re doing is helping the player,” Saban said. “If he had driven the car, it’d be a totally different circumstance.”
Saban said Hand would have received the same treatment even if he hadn’t gotten arrested.
Hand was once the No. 1 player in the country throughout the 2014 recruiting cycle, but when he showed up to Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide had multiple defensive lineman ahead of him.
There was A’Shawn Robinson, Jarran Reed, Jonathan Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson, to name a few. Those guys are all gone, and Hand is a lock to be a starter at this point. He’s one of Alabama’s most experienced defensive lineman, along with rising junior Da’Ron Payne.
When given the opportunity, Hand has performed well. He has 7 sacks for his career. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he topped that number this season, given his natural abilities.
Look for Hand to have a breakout year in his senior season for Alabama as he hopes to prove to NFL teams he can be a game-changer at the next level.
Led by Hand and Payne, Alabama’s defensive linemen went through a drill with a new sled on Thursday.