Ending weeks of speculation, Eddie Vanderdoes made it official this morning through a text first released to The Bee late Monday: he will not attend Notre Dame on a football scholarship and will instead head to UCLA.
The 6-foot-4, 305-pound All-American defensive end from Placer High School expressed gratitude to Notre Dame for being "gracious" of his deciosn. He nearly signed with UCLA in February after a whirlwind recruiting process that had him listed as a top 10 national recruit.
Vanderdoes did not shed any light on what went wrong with Notre Dame. He suggested that the switch to UCLA is primarily because of a desire to remain close to family. It's a one-hour flight from Sacramento to Los Angeles as compared to flights to South Bend, Ind.
Though still not formally released from his letter of intent, Vanderdoes is hopeful of a smooth transition, his father Eddie Vanderdoes III said. Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said today the school will not release Vanderdoes but wishes him well otherwise.
Wrote Vanderdoes in a text, "I would like to thank the University of Notre Dame for lifting the recruiting ban and allowing me to sign an athletic scholarship with UCLA. Over the past four months, circumstances have changed for me and my family. For very personal reasons, I feel a strong need to remain close to home and be near those who are most
important in my life.
"I am honored and humbled that Note Dame thought enough of me as a person and a football player to offer me a scholarship. They have been very gracious to recognize not only how difficult a decision this was, but also how important it was for me to be near my family at this time. I take my commitments seriously, but as circumstances changed, the most important commitment is the one made to family."
To be more specific, Vanderdoes signed a grant-in aid with UCLA. Gaining a letter of intent release includes appeals, making for a delicate, time-consuming process, said Vanderdoes III. A binding letter cannot prevent Vanderdoes from attending UCLA, but it can road-block any easy path to the football field.
Said Kelly in a statement released by Notre Dame, "Eddie Vanderdoes will not be attending the University of Notre Dame. We did not release him from his national letter of intent in order to protect the integrity of that very important program, but we have worked with the Vanderdoes family so that Eddie can continue his education this fall at a school closer to his home.
"We understand Eddie's interest in remaining closer to his family and wish him well."
If Vanderdoes does at some point gain a release, he can play this fall for UCLA. If he doesn't gain that release, Vanderdoes will have to sit a year, per NCAA rules, and then have four remaining years to play three.
Vanderdoes has already appealed the National Letter of Intent board, and was denied. He can still appeal the Notre Dame decision.
Vanderdoes has not spoken publicly on the matter besides two statements. Vanderdoes III said in a lengthy phone conversation that a lot of this is a private family matter, well beyond a simple "change of heart."
With the recruiting ban lifted, UCLA was able to sign Vanderdoes. UCLA coaches will visit Vanderdoes today in his home town of Auburn.
"We're very excited to welcome Eddie to the Bruin family," said excited UCLA assistant coach Angus McClure by cell. "We know what kind of quality person Eddie is."
McClure denied that UCLA coaches tampered by reaching out to Vanderdoes in recent weeks.
"When the recruiting ban was lifted, we were able to make contact, and he showed interest in UCLA," McClure said.
Vanderdoes will be assigned classes today and start summer sessions on June 24. That will trigger the transfer rule. The family is hopeful that once it's official that Vanderdoes is a UCLA student, he'll be released from his letter of intent from UCLA.
Vanderdoes III said the last few months have been a strain on his son and the family. They have found out just how passionate college football fans are, and how rumors and speculation run rampant.
"During the whole time, the biggest issue was not talking about some of this, because it is a process," Vanderdoes III said. "He asked out of his letter in March. It's been weeks, then months. This statement at least cools things off and answers the main question of where he's going, and it let's him hopefully finish his senior year in peace with graduation on Saturday."
- Joe Davidson
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