SAN BERNARDINO — Rarely thought of as an efficient organization, the NCAA’s quick decision surprised even Eddie Vanderdoes.
The five-star defensive end had hovered in limbo for weeks after reneging on his signed letter of intent with Notre Dame. After a written appeal failed, he finally had a chance to speak directly to the NCAA last Monday. He didn’t waste his chance, laying out his case for nearly 90 minutes.
The next day, the NCAA cleared him to play immediately. If they hadn’t done so, Vanderdoes would have had to sit this fall, as well as lose a year of eligibility.
Now he is available to replace starter Owamagbe Odighizuwa, a would-be senior who will redshirt the season recovering from hip surgery.
“I was real surprised,” Vanderdoes said. “They actually had called me an hour after, talked to me and told me they would have a full decision tomorrow. They basically had a decision but they kind of wanted to cover their bases the next day.”
An All-American at Placer High in Auburn, Calif. — roughly 35 miles from Sacramento — Vanderdoes gave the NCAA four main reasons for his appeal. One was his grandmother’s breast cancer, but he declined to discuss the others.
“I knew that once I got to the point where I could talk to them on the phone, it was going to be fine,” he said. “That was the confidence that I had.”
Vanderdoes said his time in South Bend, Ind., started going wrong a week after February’s Signing Day, but he still wanted to stick it through. Roughly a month after that, those undisclosed issues still weren’t resolved and he decided to transfer.
The freshman insists that the reasons were valid, and he initially expected to be released from his national letter of intent. He added that the Notre Dame staff was helpful in helping him with the transfer process — except for one coach.
Vanderdoes did not comment on whether that was head coach Brian Kelly. After the final ruling, Kelly said in a statement: “This result does not change my opinion concerning the importance of protecting the integrity of the NLI program, nor will it change our approach to the process going forward.”
– Starting tight end/Y-receiver Darius Bell was limited in practice, his hand covered with a cast for an undisclosed injury. Grayson Mazzone took most of his first-team reps, with true freshman Thomas Duarte moving in at times.
Former defensive end Nate Iese also switched to Y-receiver.
– Linebacker Eric Kendricks, last season’s Pac-12 tackles leader, had a procedure to clean out a sprained ankle but participated lightly.
– A small white drone hovered above filming practice Wednesday. Head coach Jim Mora had said in spring that he wanted to acquire one, and it appears to be working seamlessly.