Eddie Vanderdoes, 5-star 2013 defensive tackle, has the potential to be a program changer—even with just three seasons of eligibility to work with.
In fact, this whole recruiting saga has worked out to become a best-case scenario for Jim Mora and the UCLA Bruins.
For those who need catching up, Vanderdoes has left Notre Dame's 2013 class and will instead enroll at UCLA, citing personal reasons, per Brandon Huffman and Tracy Pierson of Scout.com/BruinReportOnline:
Vanderdoes, in a statement, said:
"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 near those who are most important in my life.
"I am honored and humbled that the University of Notre 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 family at this time. I take my commitments seriously, but as circumstances changed, the most important commitment is the one made to family."
That's big news for UCLA, but it does come with a catch.
Notre Dame, in a statement from head coach Brian Kelly, announced that it will not be letting Vanderdoes out of his national letter of intent, according to Dan Murphy of BlueGoldIllustrated.com:
Because Notre Dame won't let him out of the NLI, Vanderdoes had to sign a "Grant-in Aid.". That means he can go to UCLA, but he'll have to redshirt the 2013 season. Unlike a normal redshirt, though, he'll only have three seasons of eligibility left once he does see the field in 2014.
Still worth it.
Vanderdoes for three years is better than any other 2013 recruit not named Robert Nkemdiche for four. His presence on UCLA's defense could put the Bruins over the top—especially in the Pac-12.
He'll join a class that already featured 11 defenders and at least four other superstar recruits.
UCLA was able to land 4-star safeties Priest Willis and Tahaan Goodman, and those two are sure to roam the defensive backfield and make a ton of plays for UCLA in the seasons to come. Willis, in particular, could end up being one of the best safeties in college football. And Goodman is a physical safety who will be a great compliment to Willis' star power.
4-star defensive end and UCLA commitment Kylie Fitts was the No. 8 strong-side defensive end last cycle, according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings, and he'll only get better with a player like Vanderdoes playing on the line with him. He was going to be good anyhow.
These are all players that Vanderdoes will be teaming up with just in his own class, mind you.
With talent already on the roster, plus talent sure to come considering UCLA's hot streak on the recruiting trail, the Bruins program is shaping up to be extremely good.
At least defensively, Vanderdoes will be one of the catalysts that could put UCLA in the national spotlight. He was the No. 1 defensive tackle in the 2013 class, according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings. He's 6'2'' and 310 pounds, but he plays with the quickness of a linebacker. He's explosive out of his stance, has great fundamentals, quick feet and is great in pursuit.
Vanderdoes is big and strong enough to demand double teams, and he's talented enough to break those double teams and make plays in the backfield. He'll be a force against the run, but he's fast enough to be a good pass-rusher as well.
He's an every-down defensive tackle, and that's rare in football today.
Vanderdoes should make a ton of plays for UCLA, and he'll impact the way offenses prepare for the Bruins. He'll make the players around him on the line better, and the linebackers and defensive backs behind him will benefit as well.
He's a program changer, and for a program on the cusp of great things like UCLA, he's the type of player that can put the Bruins over the edge.
So what if he'll only be on the field for three seasons? His impact on the program just may go far beyond that.
Either way, he's worth the wait for UCLA.