Eddie Vanderdoes officially announced this morning his intention to enroll at UCLA, paving his way to a future in blue and gold.
The five-star defensive lineman originally signed to Notre Dame, but said he needed to be closer to his family in Northern California. The Placer High product was not officially released from his national letter of intent, but the Irish lifted the recruiting ban — a step that allowed him to sign grant-in-aid and enroll at another school.
Notre Dame said it does not intend to release Vanderdoes from his letter of intent, meaning that he cannot play for the Bruins until 2014.
Here is Vanderdoes’ statement, one he texted to the Sacramento Bee and other outlets.
“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.”
UCLA head coach Jim Mora confirmed the news shortly after Vanderdoes’ announcement. Unless Notre Dame changes its decision not to release Vanderdoes, he will have to sit out a season and lose a year of eligibility as a basic penalty for breaking a NLI. He will have four years to play three.
Irish head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement that his school chose not to release Vanderdoes “in order to protect the integrity of that very important program.”
“We understand Eddie’s interest in remaining closer to his family and wish him well,” he added.
Landing Vanderdoes is a huge coup for the Bruins, who need to replace first-round draft pick Datone Jones as well as build defensive line depth. UCLA lost sophomore nose tackle Brandon Tuliaupupu to a torn ACL near the end of spring camp, while defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa’s status for the season is unclear after undergoing offseason surgery on his right hip.
Even though he is currently ineligible to play in 2013, he can still practice with the team before likely starting as a sophomore the following season.