Blue-chip recruit Vanderdoes flips from Notre Dame to UCLA

Blue-chip recruit Vanderdoes flips from Notre Dame to UCLA
June 4, 2013, 12:30 pm
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Eddie Vanderdoes, a five-star defensive tackle who appeared to be the icing on the cake for Brian Kelly's recruiting class, won't attend Notre Dame after all.

Instead, the Placer, Calif., native will attend UCLA. On Tuesday, Vanderdoes told the Sacramento Bee: "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."

Notre Dame did not release Vanderdoes from his letter of intent, which means he'll sit out the 2013 season. Last week, Kelly gave a non-answer when asked about Vanderdoes' status, only saying he expected every recruit to be on campus but that "there's always a surprise or two."

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Vanderdoes backing out of his letter of intent, though, doesn't come as much of a surprise after a report in May detailed how he was wavering on his commitment to the Irish. Vanderdoes didn't go into any specifics as to why he'll head to Pasadena instead of South Bend, but also told the Bee:

"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."

Kelly also released a statement following Vanderdoes' announcement:

“Eddie Vanderdoes will not be attending the University of Notre Dame," Kelly said. "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.”

While Vanderdoes -- like most recruits -- wasn't guaranteed success at the collegiate level, his loss for the next three or four years could deal a significant blow to the Irish defense. With Louis Nix likely bound for the NFL Draft next year, Vanderdoes looked like his heir apparent at defensive tackle.

And with Stephon Tuitt also likely bound for the NFL Draft as a Top 15 pick next year, Notre Dame's defensive line will have plenty of turnover heading into 2014. There were question marks with or without Vanderdoes, but now, defensive coordinator Bob Diaco is left without a potential answer.

With Vanderdoes, Rivals ranked Notre Dame's Class of 2013 as the third-best of the recruiting season, only topped by Alabama and Ohio State.

[RELATED: Kelly wants Golson back at Notre Dame]

Under Kelly, Notre Dame has lost plenty of blue-chip recruits, with Vanderdoes serving as the latest example. Five-star quarterback Gunner Kiel transferred to Cincinnati this spring, while 2011 four-star commit Davonte Neal left the school in March as well. Aaron Lynch, a four-star commit in 2011, transferred to USF in April 2012, and Tee Shepard, a four-star cornerback, also left the school in 2012.

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