What is a Notre Dame football recruiting class without drama from a five-star prospect?
Vanderdoes sat in the Notre Dame dressing room during his official visit in January, but may not make it to South Bend in June.
Two years ago, defensive lineman Aaron Lynch vacillated between Notre Dame and Florida State for months, suddenly announced for head coach Brian Kelly’s program days before enrolling in January and became a Freshman All-American for the Fighting Irish in 2011, but then transferred to the University of South Florida.
In 2012, quarterback Gunner Kiel “de-committed” from Indiana, opted for LSU … and on the day he was supposed to join the Tigers decided to enroll early at Notre Dame instead. He will be a student-athlete at the University of Cincinnati this summer.
Now, prized 6-3, 285-pound defensive lineman Eddie Vanderdoes — 247Sports’ No. 6-rated player in the nation at any position — appears to be having second thoughts. A groundswell of Internet message board speculation that exploded on Monday has indicated that Vanderdoes might not be enrolling with the 24-man Fighting Irish class for summer school and workouts that begin Monday, June 17.
Vanderdoes starred at Placer High in Auburn, Calif., and had originally committed to USC in the summer of 2012. He reopened his recruiting during the season before announcing on National Signing Day that he had selected Notre Dame over UCLA, Alabama and Washington. Reportedly, the Bruins now seem to be the favorite for Vanderdoes. Messages left by BlueandGold.com to Vanderdoes and his family to confirm or deny the rumors went unanswered, and Notre Dame has not issued any public statements either.
The main “concrete” statement came from Sacramento Bee reporter Joe Davidson, who has closely covered Vanderdoes’ career, on his Twitter account Monday night: “I did get this from Vanderdoes’ family: Grades, eligibility or conduct/character is not and has never been an issue.”
Not exactly a ringing endorsement that Vanderdoes still plans to enroll at Notre Dame, although summer school is still four weeks away. The fact that the rumors that he would not attend Notre Dame were not quashed only heightened more speculation.
Vanderdoes’ signing was the icing on the cake this February for a Notre Dame recruiting class that was a consensus top-four harvest. Prior to him coming on board, the one position where the Irish lacked star power in this class was defensive line, and it was a crucial need area for several reasons.
One, senior Louis Nix III and junior Stephon Tuitt are No. 7 and No. 13, respectively, on ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s “2014 Big Board” for the NFL Draft. If the Irish do indeed lose both, it would be a severe hit to the line.
Third, although the Irish also inked 6-5, 260-pound Isaac Rochell and 6-5, 240-pound Jacob Matuska this February, they are not deemed instant impact players the way a Lynch, Tuitt or now Vanderdoes might be.
In addition, backup nose tackles Kona Schwenke and Tyler Stockton are in their final season of eligibility in 2013, and junior Chase Hounshell will miss his second straight season because of shoulder surgery.