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The Daily Wildcat

 

Living up to a legacy: Arizona football’s JT Hand following in dad’s footsteps

Arizona+football+offensive+lineman+JT+Hand+%28left%29+poses+with+his+father+and+Arizona+football+alumn+Bryan+Hand+%28right%29+during+a+spring+practice.+%28Courtesy+of+JT+Hand%29.

Arizona football offensive lineman JT Hand (left) poses with his father and Arizona football alumn Bryan Hand (right) during a spring practice. (Courtesy of JT Hand).

“Dad look at my helmet! It is the same as yours,” JT Hand said to his father, Bryan Hand.

Hand, a determined 6-foot-4, 310-pound offensive lineman, is forging his own legacy as No. 55 – just like his dad did as No. 66.

Hand’s father, Bryan Hand, is a former UA football offensive lineman who couldn’t be prouder of his son. Bryan Hand played for Arizona from 1993-1995 after junior college, where he was an All-American. Both committed to Arizona over other schools when recruited.

Knowing the stress and possibility of injuries, Bryan Hand initially refused to allow his son to play tackle football. After begging for years, JT Hand was finally allowed to play full-contact tackle football. Since the beginning, he has continued to prove himself. His father always encouraged him to play on teams with older kids.

“I got him in the weight room young. He became my workout partner, and, for a year, I didn’t lift weights. I would just sit there and coach him. He did light weights but had outstanding form.”

JT Hand and his father would go straight to the gym after middle school; it’s how they became best friends. He has grown up with a lot of discipline due to his close relationship with his father.

“I put him on a last-place team and ended up coaching him,” Bryan Hand said. “He played offensive defense on a team that lost almost every game. My point was for him to learn to like the game.”

JT Hand didn’t just learn to like the game. He fell in love with it and excelled.

Arizona football alum Bryan Hand (left) gives his son JT Hand (right) a pep talk. JT Hand would go on to play at his father's alma mater starting in 2021 (Courtesy of JT Hand).
Arizona football alum Bryan Hand (left) gives his son JT Hand (right) a pep talk. JT Hand would go on to play at his father’s alma mater starting in 2021 (Courtesy of JT Hand).

 

He went on to play football at Mission Viejo High School in Mission Viejo, California, where his father coached him in his freshman year. During sophomore year, JT Hand proved to the coaches that he belonged on varsity. Bryan Hand stepped back as his son’s coach.

“I wanted him to get yelled at by another man,” Bryan Hand said. “It’s important to step back and help him on the side but [also] for him to learn from someone other than me.”

When JT Hand committed to Arizona, the family’s dream came true. As a lifelong fan, he grew up attending Wildcat games.

“I went to a camp out here before I even had a scholarship,” JT Hand recalled. “After I got an offer, I immediately went home and was like, ‘Dad I want to go here, I don’t want to go anywhere else.’ Growing up watching the Wildcats play and then to officially be one of them was a crazy feeling.”

Bryan Hand takes pride in his son’s strength and conditioning.

“When JT [Hand] got to Arizona, he was only 19 and is one of the strongest players on the team because he came in with the proper form,” Bryan Hand said. “The strength coaches are making him dominant.”

JT Hand’s coaches are impressed.

“He is a great leader, a great teammate and he loves to work,” offensive line coach and offensive coordinator Brennan Carroll said.

Bryan Hand has never missed a game.

“When the music came on and the first time JT [Hand] walked out onto that field, I was losing my mind,” Bryan Hand recalled. “I cried about five rivers of tears full of pride.”

His son’s breakout moment was in the game against the University of California Berkeley when he blocked one of the Cal linebackers and opened a hole for a touchdown.

“In the Cal game in 2021, he was called into duty as a freshman,” Carroll said. “[He] helped us win the game.”


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