The talent of Eddie Vanderdoes is undeniable. It’s what made him one of the most heavily recruited prospects in the 2013 recruiting cycle and made his decision to sign with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish a major win for Brian Kelly and his staff. Almost every major program wanted him, but the Irish got him to sign and had big plans for their latest recruit in South Bend.
But now the No. 1 defensive tackle recruit has changed his mind and enrolled with the UCLA Bruins instead, but will be forced to sit out a season and lose a year of eligibility for breaking his letter of intent. The incoming freshman felt that was a suitable price to pay to play closer to his home and family as he accepted the NCAA imposed penalty in stride. When he finally hits the field for the Bruins in 2014, however, Vanderdoes will make an immediate impact.
Jim Mora’s club is working through some questions along their defensive line in 2013. Their ranks have been thinned by injuries and all three projected starters next fall, including starting nose tackle Seali’i Epenesa, are seniors entering their final year of eligibility. There will be openings across the defensive line and Vanderdoes has the tools to step right in and be a contributor immediately.
While the young defensive lineman sits during his mandatory redshirt in 2013, he will still be allowed to practice and work out with the team, though he won’t be available for games. That will give him a full year to work on the mental side of the game and enter 2014 with a complete understanding of the UCLA defensive playbook and will be ready to put his immense physical gifts to good use without the burden of learning the defense as he goes.
It is a major loss for Notre Dame in 2013, but the defection of Eddie Vanderdoes will be a major playmaker for UCLA in 2014 and beyond.