Report: Vanderdoes left Notre Dame for ailing family member

When Eddie Vanderdoes officially signed with UCLA earlier this week, breaking his letter of intent with Notre Dame, the five-star defensive lineman only cited “very personal reasons.”

A report from CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman sheds a little more light on the situation. Sources told Feldman that one of Vanderdoes’ close relatives was diagnosed with a severe illness a few months ago, prompting him to push for a release from Notre Dame.

The Irish have declined to do so, with head coach Brian Kelly explaining that he needed to protect the integrity of his program. Left unsaid was that no head coach wants set a precedent by allowing recruits to renege on their letters of intent.

Unless Vanderdoes and his family can successfully push for a release, perhaps through an appeal, the top-rated lineman will lose a year of eligibility and start playing in 2014.

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Eddie Vanderdoes announces for UCLA, breaking NLI with Notre Dame

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.” Continue reading

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UCLA misses on No. 1 QB Kyle Allen

UCLA put the full-court press on Kyle Allen, but couldn’t close the deal as the No. 1-rated pro-style quarterback picked Texas A&M. The Desert Mountain (Scottsdale, Ariz.) star also had Notre Dame, Ohio State and Oklahoma State.

The Bruins, thought to be the leaders for Allen, now face a tough task in landing a 2014 quarterback: Manny Wilkins and Brad Kaaya were the next targets on the list, but they’ve since verballed to Arizona State and Miami, respectively.

The top uncommitted pro-style quarterback according to Rivals.com rankings is now Palo Alto’s Keller Chryst, whose top four is Stanford, USC, Alabama and Pitt.

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Gavin Schilling announces Wednesday

Three-star forward Gavin Schilling is deciding between Minnesota, Villanova, Michigan State and UCLA, and will announce Wednesdy at 11:15 a.m. on Twitter. The 6-foot-9 recruit watched the Bruins’ win over Arizona in the Pac-12 semifinals, and his Findlay Prep teammate Allerik Freeman is already signed to UCLA.

UPDATE: Schilling said he will announce at 12:30 p.m. instead.

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Weekly Q&A — 2/23/13 Answers

Q: Was Tony Parker hurt in the second half? Some are saying that is why he didn’t play more after a coming out party in the first half.

A: Ben Howland said Parker got tired as USC was making a run. Also said the officials got on Parker for getting “chippy,” but mostly attributed the limited minutes to fatigue. He also basically said that Parker would be relied on to produce similarly against Arizona State. Travis Wear’s official status is day to day, but I doubt he’ll be ready by Wednesday.

Q: How much of this “can’t get the recruit in” is a PR stunt to tow the “Harvard of the West” fantasy? Continue reading

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Elder commits to Miami

For anyone still holding out hope that Cornelius Elder would commit to UCLA, he’s on his way to Miami after the school offered him a football scholarship this morning. He accepted on the spot and will also play basketball for the Hurricanes. Tennessee’s two-time Mr. Football (Division II-AA) led the Ensworth School to three straight titles, but might rely on his quickness too much to be an every-down back.

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Willis officially sends letter of intent

Defensive back Priest Willis officially joined UCLA’s 2013 recruiting class Saturday, calming anyone who worried about a last-minute defection. A star at Marcos De Niza High in Tempe, Ariz., Willis is the Bruins’ most highly rated recruit: Scout.com has him as a five-star prospect and the fourth-best cornerback in the country, while Rivals.com ranks him as a four-star safety and No. 56 overall in the country.

He had committed to UCLA in a press conference on Jan. 23, just hours after his friend Tahaan Goodman — a four-star safety out of Rancho Cucamonga — had done the same. However, Willis’ mother left town for a few days this week and had neglected to sign his National Letter of Intent; that left his paperwork out of the 23 faxes that the Bruins received Wednesday.

UCLA should now vault back into the top 10 of the Rivals.com rankings; the site had dropped the team to No. 11 because Willis didn’t send his letter in on National Signing Day.

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Klemm named Pac-12 Recruiter of the Year

Not tremendously surprising, but UCLA offensive line coach was named FoxSports/Scout.com’s Pac-12 Recruiter of the Year today. His efforts in reeling in seven offensive linemen — all of whom — laid the foundation for what the site ranks as the nation’s No. 5 class.

From Scout.com:

Klemm signed the top-ranked offensive tackle in California, Arizona and Tennessee and also landed a four-star lineman from Texas, and put together the second-ranked offensive line class in the country while also being one of the point men on four-star receiver Eldridge Massington from Texas.

UCLA signed eight offensive linemen in 2004, but this year’s haul knocks that one out of the water. The Bruins also had that many in 2004, but only one received four-star ranking from Scout.com. All but two members of Klemm’s group have four stars.

Lane Kiffin’s brother, Chris, received national Recruiter of the Year honors for his work at Ole Miss — reeling in defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, the overall No. 1 prospect, and the nation’s No. 10 class despite the program being just two years removed from a 2-10 season. This is mildly amusing considering the recent attrition of USC’s class.

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