According to the rumors, Eddie Vanderdoes, 2013 5-star defensive tackle, may not play football at Notre Dame. If these rumors are true, this will impact the Fighting Irish in a big way, both on the field and on the recruiting trail.
Joe Davidson of sacbee.com has been close to Vanderdoes throughout the process of his recruitment. Davidson reports that the 5-star defensive tackle may not end up in South Bend, despite singing a letter of intent back in February:
The 6-foot-4, 305-pound Placer High School senior defensive end signed a national letter of intent in February with Notre Dame, ending a whirlwind recruiting run, but there was rampant speculation on the Internet from media outlets, recruiting services and chat boards professing to be in the know on Monday night that the All-American may not head to South Bend.
Speculation about Vanderdoes ranged from character concerns to an academic fall out. Vanderdoes' coaches continued to rave about his upstanding character on Monday, and his father Eddie Vanderdoes on Monday night texted of his son, "One thing I can tell you is grades or eligibility is not and has never been an issue."
He added in the text, "let people speculate, but you will be the first to know, as always, when it's time to let people know."
The most important thing to take out of this is that the rumors are indeed just that—rumors. Davidson's report wasn't able to confirm nor deny the rumors of Vanderdoes potentially not playing for Notre Dame, but it does debunk the rumors character or academic concerns, though, so take that how you will.
Still, where there's smoke there's usually some sort of fire, so one would be remiss not to at least examine the possibility of life without Vanderdoes for the Fighting Irish.
At 6'2'', 310 pounds Vanderdoes could play nose tackle in Notre Dame's 3-4 scheme, which would be perfect because star nose tackle Louis Nix III is a senior this year and the NFL is calling. That said, Vanderdoes also has the quickness and technique to play defensive end in the 3-4, and that's huge for Notre Dame considering that junior Stephon Tuitt could very well bolt for the NFL after next season as well.
Fellow 2013 signees Isaac Rochell or Jacob Matuska have potential, but Rochell still needs to put on mass at just 6'5'', 260 pounds and Matuska seems to be more of a situational player at 6'5'', 240 pounds, running a 4.70 40, according to 247Sports. Even if they exceeded expectations, neither player projects to have the dominant presence that Vanderdoes would have for Notre Dame.
Looking at the current depth chart, Sophomore Sheldon Day doesn't have the size to play the nose—thus he projects as an end—and Jarron Jones (6'5'', 299 pounds) is still somewhat of an unknown after a redshirt season. Jones may also be better suited on the edges of the defensive line because of his height.
If Vanderdoes was to exit the picture for Notre Dame, there would be some major concerns and uncertainties, specifically at defensive tackle, in 2014. The Fighting Irish could get away with potentially losing Vanderdoes in 2013, but that loss could cause some serious trouble for the defensive line rotation in 2014 and beyond.
Switching gears to the 2014 recruiting class, losing Vanderdoes would make the commitments of 4-star defensive end Andrew Trumbetti (6'5'', 250 pounds) and 4-star defensive tackle Jay Hayes (6'5'', 260 pounds) that much more important. Still, much like 2014 commits Rochell and Matuska, both 2014 commitments will need to bulk up to play in the 3-4.
That's also assuming that they stay committed until singing day, which is never a guarantee.
That would also increase the need to go after elite defensive linemen recruits like 4-star defensive tackles Khari Clark and Josh Frazier, but Notre Dame will have major competition. The Fighting Irish are in the top six on Clark's 247Sports interest list, but Miami is the top team. Notre Dame is in Josh Frazier's top five (247Sports), but so is Alabama, Arkansas, Texas A&M and USC.
If Notre Dame was to lose Vanderdoes it would create pressure to land a star defensive tackle recruit in 2014, but frankly, even Clark and Frazier aren't anywhere near Vanderdoes' level just yet.
All of this said, let's refocus on the fact that, for now, this is just a rumor. Also, if the rumor is proven true, Notre Dame would have the power to say no to Vanderdoes leaving.
Still, that would become a rough situation especially from a PR standpoint, and does a coach really want a player on his roster that isn't invested in being there?
Most coaches would say no to that question.
Notre Dame's 2013 class appeared to be dominant and the future of the program looked bright. While losing one player wouldn't completely derail the class or its potential, the possibility of losing Vanderdoes is certainly one that should be worrisome for Notre Dame.
Right now it's just a rumor, and hopefully for Notre Dame, that's all it will ever be.