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Irish make ex-recruit sit out year at UCLA

– Notre Dame will not have one of the top pieces in coach Brian Kelly’s highest rated recruiting class when freshmen begin classes on June 17.

Eddie Vanderdoes, a 6-foot-3, 305-pound defensive lineman from Placer High School in Auburn, Calif., decided not to join the Irish. Instead the five-star recruit, who signed with Notre Dame on Feb. 6, will enroll at UCLA, the California university confirmed in an email.

But it doesn’t appear Vanderdoes will play for the Bruins right away.

While UCLA confirmed that Vanderdoes signed a grant-in-aid (acceptance of a scholarship) to the school, Kelly said in a statement that the U.S. Army All-American will not be released from his letter of intent. That means Vanderdoes will have to sit out this season and will have three years of eligibility remaining when he can play for the Bruins next year.

“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,” Kelly said.

Vanderdoes was the last member to join Notre Dame’s recruiting class, which was ranked No. 3 by Rival.com and 247Sports on national signing day.

Vanderdoes’ decision not to play for Notre Dame pushed the class, which includes former Bishop Luers linebacker Jaylon Smith to No. 5 in 247Sports’ 2013 rankings. Vanderdoes was rated the No. 21 overall prospect by Rivals.com, and 247Sports ranked him sixth.

“It’s still an outstanding class,” said Steve Wiltfong, 247Sports national writer. “You don’t just rank five nationally based on the merits of one defensive lineman from California.

“Notre Dame still brought in a class that addressed a lot of needs. … I still think there are plenty of reasons for Brian Kelly and his staff to be happy about the group enrolling.”

But without Vanderdoes, the Irish could be thinner than they hoped to be on the defensive line in the future.

Vanderdoes was expected to be able to back up either defensive end Stephon Tuitt or nose guard Louis Nix III this season. He would also have helped soften the blow if Tuitt, who will be a junior this season, and Nix, a senior this season with an option to return of a fifth year, both left after this year to enter the NFL draft.

The Irish still have defensive linemen Isaac Rochell, a four-star prospect, and Jacob Matuska, a three-star prospect, coming in this year. And Notre Dame has oral commitments from four-star linemen Jay Hayes and Andrew Trumbetti for 2014.

“Defensive tackle is a big need for the Irish moving forward,” Wiltfong said. “A guy that can fill the shoes of Louis Nix when he’s gone, that’s the big need for Notre Dame moving forward. I could see Notre Dame pursuing another defensive lineman with Eddie Vanderdoes no longer part of the team.”

tkrausz@jg.net

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