Among the many "jewels" in USC's 2013 high school recruiting class, there are few that shine brighter than Auburn, Calif. defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes.
Vanderdoes, a Scout.com 5-star prospect who is generally considered to be one of the best at his position in the nation, is a relentless interior lineman who is equally adept in both the run and pass game.
Labeled a "soft commit" to the Trojans, Vanderdoes will be taking visits to other programs, including one to Notre Dame. Scout.com's Brian Dohn quotes Vanderdoes as saying, “I’m still committed (to USC) but I’m keeping my options open.”
In "recruiting speak," this means that while he still likes USC, don't bet the farm on his signing a letter of intent for the Trojans quite yet.
For those who follow the zany antics of high school recruiting, they know that when it comes to the impressionable minds of 18-year-old kids, nothing is for certain until the LOI is faxed.
But back to Vanderdoes. Big Eddie has promised the Trojans a visit on Jan. 18, which, under normal circumstances, would likely be his last visit, but now there are rumblings that he could make a Notre Dame trip on the 25th of that month, which means the Fighting Irish would be the last visit on his mind come February when prep stars sign their letters.
And for Trojan fans who remember the strange saga of De'Anthony Thomas, they know anything can happen last minute when it comes to "sure things" on the recruiting trail.
So, what if Vanderdoes does the unthinkable and signs with someone else?
Given the fact that defensive line help—especially on the interior—is a focus for this class, can USC afford to lose a guy like that?
Well, the short answer is no. Simply put, no program can afford to lose a talent such as Vanderdoes. But having said that, it may turn out that USC has a backup plan, and his name is A'Shawn Robinson.
Robinson, a mammoth 6'4", 305-pound defensive tackle, is also a Scout.com 5-star prospect who is listed as a "soft commit" to Texas.
However, the Fort Worth, Texas product recently took a trip to USC and, by all accounts, he enjoyed it very much.
In fact, according to Burntorangenation.com, the Trojans are now a "major factor" with Robinson.
In an article from Wescott Eberts from that site, USC pledge Su'a Cravens (who was also on that same visit) said that Robinson, "loved the visit" and was "all smiles" the entire weekend, which is unusual for the low-key tackle.
Another thing the Trojans have going for them is that Robinson has always been a fan of the program, and getting to know Ed Orgeron, USC's defensive line coach, can only work to the Trojans' advantage.
On the other hand, according to that same article, Robinson's mother would like him to stick with the Longhorns, so we'll see who wins this tug of war for the talented D-lineman.
Of course, in a perfect world, both Vanderdoes and Robinson would don the cardinal and gold when the 2013 season rolls around, but that would be a tad bit greedy, wouldn't it?
Just the way Trojans fans like it.