February 5, 2013
Update on national football recruit Eddie Vanderdoes, and sifting through fact and fiction

vanderdoes.jpgBy Joe Davidson
jdavidson@sacbee.com

The update on Eddie Vanderdoes is this: there is no update.

The top recruit in the Sacramento region and a national top prospect as a defensive end with incredible power, speed and upside for Placer High School, Vanderdoes will agonize over his scholarship destination until the moment he signs. Vanderdoes in recent weeks hasn't slept well. He isn't nearly as gregarious. He feels like he's in a fog.

Will it be UCLA? Notre Dame? Alabama? Washington? USC?

"None of us have an idea," said Eddie's father, Eddie Vanderdoes III. "He's wanted to know for the last few months. It's not a 'I can't wait to sign' thing with Eddie. It's a 'I can't wait to know.'"

Vanderdoes will put pen to paper sometime Wednesday, perhaps early in the morning when coaches desperately want to log such signatures and scratch off must-have players from their white board. Or he could sign and deliver the paper work later in the day. Signing day means signifies the first day an athlete can make a binding pledge. It is not the only day, nor is the early hours the only time.

Vanderdoes, wanting to take a media breather for now after being besieged for weeks from across the country, will formally announce to the free world his decision during a ceremony at his Placer school.

Per the humble Vanderdoes norm, he wanted to share his biggest moment with family, teammates, classmates and friends. Others signing from Placer on Wednesday are golfer Hannah Gregg to Sonoma State; quarterback Peter Denham to Northern Arizona and tight end Stone Sander to Sacramento State.

And also per the norm, there have been a lot of rampant speculation about Vanderdoes. Some have done nice profiles on Vanderdoes. Others have fueled speculation. Some reporters, bloggers, recruiting sites or fans in social media who are convinced that they're in the know have suggested or reported that Vanderdoes in recent weeks has:

1. Re-committed to USC after de-committing earlier in the fall so he could better explore his options. Not true, unless someone wants to call the Vanderdoes family a pack of liars.

2. Is bound for Notre Dame because he was blown away by the visit to South Bend and because the Irish will have a noon local-time announcement on signings, and Vanderdoes will have his signature delivered to South Bend at the crack of dawn. Vanderdoes did indeed enjoy the visit but his decision time does not connect with Notre Dame's announcement. What's more, the family has made it clear to the coaches of all five finalists that he will announce when he is good and ready, not when they are good and ready.

3. He has to be headed to UCLA because Bruins coach Jim Mora will have his newsconference to talk signings at 5:15 p.m. Um, doesn't matter. The Placer party starts at 5 p.m. local time, but Vanderdoes may not take the podium to announce until 5:20 or so as he will follow his three classmates. We're a bit in the know here because I have the lineup here and will be the emcee (live stream on MaxPreps.com). Mora wouldn't make a comment on a recruit if he hasn't sent in a letter.

All told, Vanderdoes has said each school provides a powerful hook. He talks in big picture, always reminding that, "this is a life decision, not just a football decision." This late decision is no charade. He's genuine in his indecision, having said as much when we last spoke.

"He's leaned one way, then leaned another, then another, and he understood that might happen and that he needs to be 100 percent sure," said Vanderdoes' father. "It's like looking at five great cars. Which one do I want? 'Oh, wow. Look at the rims on that one.' Or, 'the sound system in this one is nice.' But these are schools, and it's not easy picking the best school."

What can father advise son?

"The No. 1 thing I told him is that he needs to picture himself in pads, in a helmet, with those coaches, in that stadium, in that environment, in those stands, that climate - and when you can picture that and it doesn't seem odd, then that's your place," Vanderdoes III said.

Vanderdoes III said he has "been blown away at how Eddie's handled this. He's done a lot of research."

The Vanderdoes family watched closely to see how recent national recruits from this region handled the spotlight and anxiety. Grant defensive tackle Vei Moala landed at Cal following the 2010 season. A year ago, Grant safety Shaq Thompson thought he was headed to Cal, then de-committed, lost sleep, didn't eat, then chose Washington.

Also last year, Pleasant Grove lineman Arik Armstead was heavily leaning toward Cal,
then backed out, took trips across the land, then settled on Oregon.

"We saw what they went through, watched it all go down, and then the beatings they got (from fans on social media), and we got a head's up," Vanderdoes III said.

The Vanderdoes home has been a swarm of recruiters in recent weeks. They anticipated this because the same was true for recent monster recruits. Some recruiters attended Placer basketball games in recent weeks to watch his freshman sister Baylee compete on the girls varsity team. This included USC athletic director Pat Haden - not too long after USC offered her a basketball scholarship. Recruiters have stopped by campus. Vanderdoes cannot hide. You do not hide 6-3, 303 pounds of man.

Vanderdoes over the weekend visited Alabama. He had his picture taken in the dressing room, where he was greeted by a jersey bearing his high school No. 47.

This week, peace and quiet. No more home visits. But sleep? That won't come until Wednesday night.

"It's been hard," Vanderdoes III said. "He really doesn't know. He hasn't slept. He's not sleeping at all. He's trying to be sure. We'd all like to know but no one more than Eddie."
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About the Prep blog

Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at jdavidson@sacbee.com or bpaterson@sacbee.com.

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