With the news the Eddie Vanderdoes will be eligible for his freshman season in 2013 (sorry Brian Kelly), the UCLA Bruins will add one of the top defensive tackle prospects in the country last year to the mix. He couldn’t have come at a better time for the Bruins as Jim Mora attempts to rebuild his defensive line following the loss of Datone Jones to the NFL and numerous injuries across the board. That puts Vanderdoes in a prime position to make a splash early next season.
The 6-foot-3, 310-pound defensive tackle was heavily recruited by the top programs in the country. He originally chose to sign with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in February before changing his mind for “family reason” in June. He chose to enroll at UCLA, closer to his Auburn, California, home. When Notre Dame refused to release Vanderdoes from his letter of intent, it appeared that the defensive lineman would lose a year of eligibility and be forced to sit out the 2013 season.
Vanderdoes appealed the decision and won, giving the defensive line situation at UCLA a major boost as they prepare to open fall camp. Jones emerged as an impact player last season before declaring for the draft and his heir apparent, rising senior Owamagbe Odighizuwa, had hip surgery this offseason with a questionable return for 2013. The depth of the defensive line was further thinned out when nose tackle Brandon Tuliaupupu tore his ACL during spring camp. If Vanderdoes can pick the defense up quickly and prove to be an impact player, the Bruins may elect to shut Odighizuwa down and redshirt him to have him for all of the 2014 season.
He will be playing alongside the anchor of the defensive line, Cassius Marsh, who is a fiery and vocal leader on defense. Vanderdoes will add his considerable talents to the mix next fall and could be the key to the Bruins’ defense holding up in Pac 12 play next season.
Is Vanderdoes the answer for UCLA’s defensive line questions or will the responsibility of anchoring the line be too much for the incoming freshman?