The rumor had been brewing for over a month but it came to light yesterday afternoon. 5-star defensive tackle and incoming 2013 Notre Dame recruit Eddie Vanderdoes may not be making it to campus when freshmen report in June.
The first round of rumors concerned Vanderdoes and a an "issue with a class that would be resolved shortly." What many thought could be a simple misunderstanding has apparently become much, much more complicated.
Late last night updates from numerous Notre Dame recruiting sites said that it wasn't an academic issue but a "change of heart" from the young defensive tackle. As of last night before midnight the latest update from Blue Gold Illustrated was that Notre Dame wasn't "feeling great about Vanderdoes' chances of making it to campus."
The Sacramento Bee's Joe Davidson, who has been as close as anyone in the media to the Vanderdoes family, reported last night that it is not an academic or character issue. To add some fuel to the fire Davidson writes the following:
Still, there was a snag with Notre Dame seemingly from the start with how the school handled his scholarship commitment. The Vanderdoes family made it clear that they wanted Notre Dame to keep his decision mum to the media so he could enjoy a letter-of-intent signing ceremony later in the afternoon with several classmates who also signed scholarship deals. Most announcements are made early in the morning as colleges prefer to have signed letters as soon as they're allowed by the NCAA to receive them.
Notre Dame blew that seemingly simple request when Vanderdoes' name was in fact listed on the morning letter-of-intent announcement released to the media. His name was immediately taken off the sheet, but the secret was already out and hit the national feeds right away.
That statement probably makes most Irish fans scoff, right?
Why wait until now---just weeks before reporting for summer camp---for this to be an issue? Was an honest clerical mistake on the behalf of Notre Dame so large that it burned all the bridges to South Bend? I have a very tough time believing that.
Not to say that the National Signing Day mistake wasn't an issue---I'm sure it ticked off Vanderdoes and his family---but odds are there is much more to this story. As cynical as the world of recruiting has become it's probably right to question if there is some sort of academic issue. I certainly wouldn't expect the Vanderdoes family (nor their close associate Davidson) to mention anything, and we know from experience that Notre Dame isn't in the business of throwing kids under the bus when it comes to academics.
If this is mostly a case of Vanderdoes losing trust in the Irish coaching staff (or never having it to begin with before he signed his National Letter of Intent) and having a change of heart regarding attending Notre Dame that would be a very gut wrenching end to one of the biggest surprises of the 2013 recruiting class.
Moving forward we wish the best for Eddie and his family no matter what he decides.
As for the Notre Dame program this is (possibly) another blow to recruiting that has become common place in recent years. Vanderdoes would join Aaron Lynch, Gunner Kiel, and Davonte Neal as recruits who garnered at least one 5-star from a service and have now moved on from the Irish football program over the past year or so.
The question now becomes whether or not Notre Dame will release Vanderdoes from his Letter of Intent---a move that certainly is not commonplace and could set a terrible precedent for future Irish recruits. See the issue down at Florida State with linebacker Matthew Thomas. The Seminoles are not going to release him from his LOI because it will open the flood gates for future recruits to do the same and change their mind after signing.
It's a matter of principal that I'd expect Notre Dame to stand on in this situation.
In regards to the roster this could open up an additional scholarship for the 2014 class which is always nice. As of our latest update that should bring the total for the new class to 21. However, there is no denying that the loss of Vanderdoes could be a huge blow to the defensive line depth and talent---if not for this upcoming season---then certainly in 2014 when Notre Dame is expected to lose both Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt to the NFL Draft.
We'll report any further updates as they become available. I think we've found our next off-season podcast topic!
AM Update: Vanderdoes Status Unclear (BGI)