Eddie Vanderdoes recently decommitted from USC, but the Trojans are still firmly in the running for the 5-star defensive tackle.
Vanderdoes' top-5 currently consists of Notre Dame, USC, Washington, UCLA and Alabama according to his 247Sports interest list.
One could assume that Alabama must have received a huge boost with Vanderdoes because of its huge 42-14 win over Notre Dame in the National Championship. Conversely, one could also assume that Notre Dame dropped in the eyes of the 5-star defensive tackle because of it's poor showing in the championship game.
Those assumptions, while logical, would be incorrect according to Adam Gorney of Rivals.com:
Alabama's domination of Notre Dame Monday night in the BCS championship game will play no influence in the final decision for four-star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, who is still considering both teams along with USC, UCLA and Washington.
The Auburn (Calif.) Placer standout, who shined at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, still plans to visit both schools before signing day along with an official trip to USC and then make his final decision.
Notre Dame is definitely not out after a bad performance in the title game.
"Not at all," Vanderdoes said in a text message. "Both teams are great and they were both there for a reason."
Still, it's worth noting that both Alabama and Notre Dame look to be the two biggest options other than USC on the board for Vanderdoes. At least in championship potential and national relevance, it would be fair to consider UCLA and Washington "tier two" teams when compared to the Fighting Irish, Crimson Tide and Trojans.
Vanderdoes was very open about USC still being a major contender for his commitment after his decommitment, so which one of the two other "tier one" programs pose the biggest competition for USC?
First, it's worth noting that Vanderdoes would fit well in either system. Both Notre Dame and Alabama run the 3-4 defense, and at 6'3.5'', 310 pounds Vanderdoes could play nose tackle, or 0-technique. He's big and strong enough to control both A-gaps, and that would be his main responsibility.
That said, he also displays great quickness, speed and agility, so it wouldn't be hard to move him over to defensive end to play the 5-technique. He'd have to be able to control the "B" and "C" gap, and he has the size, strength and quickness to be effective there.
Both of those programs would have ways to use Vanderdoes on the defensive line, so it does work.
Alabama would seem like the team with the hot hand right now, but as stated above, the National Championship game won't factor in to his decision. With other factors on the table, I would give the slight edge to Notre Dame.
He appears very sold on the academic side of things at Notre Dame, per his quotes via Tyler James of SouthBendTribune.com:
"One of the things that intrigues me about Notre Dame is the academic prestige. They graduate 99 percent of their athletes," Vanderdoes said. "You go to Notre Dame, you graduate and you're set for life. Football's not forever. It's a great culmination of football and a great program with tradition. They're back on the rise again. That really sticks out to me."
There's also the future of Notre Dame's program to consider. Brian Kelly is a great coach and a very good recruiter, and because of that the Fighting Irish are set up to be very good in the coming seasons.
They may have been embarrassed by Alabama, but that doesn't devalue the potential that this program has.
Vanderdoes could join a class that has the potential to be dominant defensively. He'd be joining 5-star outside linebacker Jaylon Smith, 5-star safety Max Redfield (former USC commitment) and a plethora of other talented defensive recruits.
Notre Dame is going to be a program that stays in contention for at least another few years, and that plus Vanderdoes' interest in their academic prestige puts the Fighting Irish in a great position to land the 5-star defensive tackle's commitment.
At the very least, Notre Dame is the program USC needs to be worried about the most.
Note: Vanderdoes is expected to visit Notre Dame on January 12th and his last visit will be to USC accoridng to Gerard Martinez of USCFootball.com.