After several weeks of consideration, Eddie Vanderdoes trusted his instincts and went with the school that he said "just really fits me perfectly."
The national defensive lineman recruit from Placer High School in Auburn spoke to USC coaches late Wednesday evening to confirm his decision to play for the Trojans on scholarship starting in the fall of 2013.
The Placer senior is a five-star recruit known for his burst off the line of scrimmage, power, athleticism, work ethic, personality, good character and grades. At 6-foot-4 and 301 pounds, Vanderdoes is a tough handle as a defensive end and as a defensive tackle, and he saw USC as the ideal fit academically, football scheme wise and location in the heart of the Pacific 12 Conference. That Vanderdoes hit it off so well with defensive line coach Ed Orgeron, head coach Lane Kiffin and assistant Clay Helton certainly helped.
Helton observed Vanderdoes workout in the Placer weight room and play a baseball game this past spring, filming him lift iron and lift soaring home runs. Helton eagerly showed Kiffin and company the footage and the recruiting race was on. When Vanderdoes called Kiffin with his decision, the Vanderdoes family could hear an ecstatic Helton yelping with joy in the background.
"I feel great about this," Vanderdoes said. "Great coaches, great people. Can't beat the academics, the football tradition, the weather. It's a life decision. It's not just a four-year decision. It's huge, crucial, and it's great. USC is setting me up for the rest of my career and life."
Though various reports had Vanderdoes favoring Oregon, Vanderdoes said it actually came down to LSU and USC. He was greatly intrigued with Oregon and Penn State, too. Vanderdoes will visit USC on an unofficial visit next week.
For now, Vanderdoes said he can exhale from the recruiting madness that included a whirlwind of calls, texts messages, mail, visits and speculation. Scholarships are not officially binding until National Letter of Intent Day in February and schools can still actively recruit him. But Vanderdoes said he is certain with his decision and has been for a matter of weeks. He said that he is also relieved for his parents, Eddie Sr. and mother Behia.
"Oh yes, it's really nice to have this done," Vanderdoes said. "I can sleep at night again, and that's a plus. I know it's not officially over until I sign, but it's USC for me. It's done. I've got a big monkey off my back. Now I can just concentrate on school and football and not have to come home at 9 at night and return a lot of coach's calls."
Vanderdoes last week won Defensive Line MVP honors at the prestigious "The Opening" in Oregon, where top recruits from across the country compete. There, Vanderdoes was able to meet a number of other USC commitments. Those recruits included quarterback Max Browne, receiver Sebastian LaRue and linebacker Michael Hutchings. Vanderdoes said USC "speaks for itself" though hearing those players rave about their USC experiences added to the intrigue.
Vanderdoes enters this fall as the Sac-Joaquin Section's No. 1 recruit. Next is Lincoln of Stockton tailback Justin Davis, also a USC commit. Placer expects to have another championship contending team under coach Joey Montoya, with Vanderdoes manning the defensive line and also playing tight end and fullback.
Placer football has been a staple in the community for decades, including state powerhouse programs in the 1970s and early '80s under coaches Bill Miller and Tom Johnson. Miller is the grandfather of Montoya.
USC has landed big-name Sacramento talent before, including Artimus "T" Parker out of Sacramento High in 1968. He was an All-American safety for USC's famed 1972 national championship team that for years was considered the best team in history. Armond Armstead of Pleasant Grove in Elk Grove excelled on the defensive line in recent years and is now in the CFL.
Photo: Vanderdoes played both baseball and football for Placer. Bee photo by Jose Luis Villegas
- By Joe Davidson
On Twitter: @sb_joedavidson