Eddie Vanderdoes may not realize it now, but he's the one true object of Notre Dame's affection.
Slotted in the 32nd position of Rivals.com's list of the nation's top 100 players, Vanderdoes, a 6'3", 310-pound defensive tackle, recently reentered the available prospects market after de-committing from USC.
The Placer, Calif., native had been committed to USC since July, but backed out of that pledge four days prior to the Trojans' 21-7 loss to Georgia Tech in the Hyundai Sun Bowl.
Vanderdoes spoke at length with Greg Biggins of Scout.com about his decision to open up his recruitment.
"Like I said before, USC did nothing wrong. This isn't about them. UCLA, Washington and Notre Dame came in for home visits and gave me a lot to think about. I had a great official trip to UCLA and Washington and I feel I owe it to myself to take a step back and make sure I'm doing the right thing. I'm going to visit Notre Dame...and then I plan to announce my final decision on Signing Day."
Following Vanderdoes' conversation with Biggins, he chose Jan. 25 as his official visit date to Notre Dame, and will join fellow USC de-commit and wide receiver prospect Sebastian LaRue on the trip to the South Bend, Ind., campus.
The importance and significance of the Irish's ability to secure an official visit from Vanderdoes can't be overstated, for he would fill a position of critical need.
Incumbent starting defensive tackle Louis Nix, as well as his backup, Kona Schwenke, will be with the Irish for one more season before departing for the NFL.
Nix, like any elite nose guard, is the centerpiece of a formidable 3-4 defensive scheme. What defensive coordinator Bob Diaco wishes to do in blitz packages and against the run begins and ends with the mammoth, 6'3", 326-pound Nix.
There has been discussion that current freshman Jarron Jones may end up within the interior of the Irish defensive line, though nothing is certain as of now.
Because of that uncertainty, a commitment from Vanderdoes has become priority No. 1 for wide receivers coach Mike Denbrock and defensive line coach Mike Elston—Vanderdoes' lead recruiters.
Fans also need to consider the bigger picture view of a commitment from Vanderdoes.
During Alabama's 42-14 drubbing of Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship Game, the Tide displayed its formidable depth along the defensive line, as it possessed the ability to go seven—and, at times, 8—deep.
It was yet another crystal-clear example that national championships are won along the defensive line.
And with defensive linemen Sheldon Day, Jarron Jones, Stephon Tuitt and Isaac Rochell (pending the signing of his national letter of intent) in the mix at Notre Dame, the Irish front seven would take a significant step forward in its evolution into a championship-winning unit.
Concisely, Vanderdoes is a "must-get" prospect.
And like many other prospects, he'll take his recruitment to the last second, leaving fans on the edges of their seats.
Will Vanderdoes pledge to the Irish?
Only time will tell.