College Announcement Day
For West Catholic FB Stars Marques Slocum and Derrell Hand

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    On Jan. 19, 2005, Marques Slocum (Michigan) and Derrell Hand (Notre Dame)
revealed their college decisions in a press conference at their school. Here are some
photos . . .
    Look beneath the photos for a never-published story on Derrell Hand.


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Derrell went first and chose Notre Dame. His mom is Deborah
Middleton.

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Then came Marques' turn. His mom is Carla Slocum.

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The immediate aftermath . . .

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Still buddies . . . for now (smile).

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It's not too often athletic director Joe Hasson feels dwarfed. At least we know that part of the
stage will pass a building inspection (smile).


This story was written to run with our Division I prospects list in late October.
Derrell received a 30-day school suspension -- for going off-campus to KFC,
it turned out -- and we decided to publish a story about someone else.
Anyway, here's the story . . .

By Ted Silary

In the matter of earning opportunities to play major college sports, a 13-year age difference has not proven unlucky for the Brothers Hand.

Nor has a big geographical gap prevented Older from counseling Younger.

Basketball fans of a certain age will remember Faron "Meatball" Hand, a first-team Daily News All-City forward in 1991 and '92 for Franklin Learning Center, producer of 1,622 career points and the headliner (14 points, 16 rebounds) when the Bobcats bested Simon Gratz and Rasheed Wallace, then a junior, for the '92 Public League title.

After a stop at Dixie Junior College, in Utah, Hand surfaced at the University of Nevada and in '97 was the Player of the Year in the Big West Conference.

Hand now lives in suburban Salt Lake City, but he often speaks with his younger brother. He, too, is a big-timer. Just happens to be in football.

West Catholic's Derrell Hand, sometimes called "Beefy" or "Beef" by schoolmates, goes 6-4, 305. He lines up at tight end and defensive tackle and has even notched a 14-yard gain as a fullback.

A teammate, two-way grunt Marques Slocum, is widely considered one of the nation's top prospects. Hand is also a prime prospect, though, witness that his list of possible destinations includes Notre Dame, Michigan State, Miami, Wisconsin and Syracuse.

West has earned a bye for the first round of the Catholic Blue playoffs, so Hand will make an official visit to Michigan State for the Nov. 13th game with Wisconsin.

Hey, that's convenient.

"I'm sure the Wisconsin people will snatch me up to talk to me, too," he said, laughing.

Hand said he often speaks with his brother.

"He wants updates on EVERYTHING," he said. "Who's calling? What are they saying? He's very excited for me.

"He says he wishes he'd gone to a high school with football because he did like that sport and maybe could have taken that further than basketball (action overseas and in minor leagues here). He had those soft hands. I like basketball, too (he plays for West) and I know that's helped me with coordination and things like that.

"He tells me what questions to ask of the recruiters, so I'll have what I need to make the right decision because it could affect my life forever."

He laughed. "He also says to enjoy all this attention because once I get wherever I'm going, I'll be just another name and number again. I'll have to prove myself all over."

What position Hand will play is anyone's guess.

"One thing the recruiters really like about Derrell is his flexibility," said West coach Brian Fluck. "He can play a lot of positions. Despite being so big, he moves well and is very athletic.

"When it's all decided, I picture him being an interior guy. Not sure which side of the ball, though. Maybe offense. He's a great drive-blocker with good feet."

Faron Hand had to take the circuitous to D-I due to academic shortcomings. Derrell is qualified for freshman eligibility and that, of course, has provided peace of mind.

He agrees with his mother, Deborah Middleton, that academics MUST be first and foremost in his decision-making process. He intends to major in civil engineering or architecture.

So, has he enjoyed being stalked so far?

"The phone calls with the coaches are pretty interesting," he said. "I've talked with them after big highs, and after big lows. Some will crack jokes. Some are pretty serious. Some even give me their game plan for the coming week!

"Notre Dame says I'm their No. 1 D-tackle prospect. Michigan State says says if I go there, I'll get early playing time. The calls from Miami and Wisconsin haven't been as often, lately. But I still hear from them. When Miami does call, they tell me to make sure I pass on greetings from them to Marques Slocum and (star junior wideout) John Maddox."

And then there's Syracuse.

"They offered me a scholarship after last season," Hand said. "Coach Fluck said that was nice, but not to jump at it because I'd certainly be getting lots of opportunities. Syracuse was first and they stuck with me all this time. That's why I'm still thinking about them."

Hand, who lives near 26th and Girard, also discusses his future with his father, Faron Sr., and sisters, Felina, Megan and Erica. They like his approach to sifting through the various elements as he prepares for his visits.

"Really, the feeling I get on game day, around the stadium, is not that important," he said. "The feeling I get about the academics and the rest of the school. That'll determine where I go."