A key catalyst of the current renaissance period Notre Dame undeniably finds itself in has been the development of a nationally renowned defensive line, though that attribute may receive a damaging body blow in the coming days.
The outlook of the situation is grim if you're a Notre Dame supporter, as neither the university nor the Vanderdoes family have given any official statements to either confirm or deny the rumors.
However, Sacramento Bee reporter Joe Davidson—the closest source to the Vanderdoes family—provided some meaningful insight on Monday evening.
I did get this from Vanderdoes family: grades, eligibility or conduct/character "is not and has never been an issue."— Joe Davidson (@SacBee_JoeD) May 21, 2013
If indeed those areas of concern are not hangups in Vanderdoes' ability to enroll at Notre Dame, then the writing is on the wall: Vanderdoes has likely experienced a change of heart surrounding his collegiate destination.
Should that be the case, "surprise" shouldn't be a term that comes to mind.
On the morning of national signing day, Vanderdoes' parents informed Notre Dame of their son's decision but instructed officials to keep quiet on the matter, as to allow Vanderdoes the opportunity to enjoy his signing ceremony, which transpired in the evening hours.
Unfortunately, Notre Dame officials botched that request, as Vanderdoes was listed on the commitment list that afternoon during a media session on campus.
While that snafu surely was received unfavorably in the Vanderdoes household, it's unlikely that it was the singular reason for Vanderdoes' apparent change of heart. Yet it appears as if the rocky start to Vanderdoes' official relationship with Notre Dame may have been simply the beginning of what appears to be a rather complex situation.
Because the 6'2", 310-pound defensive lineman signed a letter of intent, he would need to be granted a release by Notre Dame to enroll at another school of his choice, and that's where the situation becomes murky.
There's no telling what decision the university would make in that regard, though if it were to deny Vanderdoes a release, Notre Dame would be viewed in a negative light in recruiting circles. And if that's the case, the Irish's recruiting abilities would likely suffer as a consequence.
The consequences wouldn't be limited to just recruiting, though.
On the field, the Irish would be significantly undermanned along the defensive line in 2014 without Vanderdoes.
It is widely expected that both nose guard Louis Nix and defensive end Stephon Tuitt will enter the 2014 NFL draft despite each having one more season of eligibility remaining following the 2013 season.
In fact, the guys over at WalterFootball.com have Tuitt (10th overall) and Nix (22nd overall) pegged as first-round selections.
That would leave the Irish with defensive ends Sheldon Day, Tony Springmann, Jarron Jones, Isaac Rochell and Jacob Matuska as the only available defensive linemen currently on the roster. Thus, the Irish coaching staff would be hard at work to add pieces along the defensive line in the 2014 class, which already includes end Andrew Trumbetti and tackle Jay Hayes.
What's even more alarming is the nose guard position.
Reserves Kona Schwenke and Tyler Stockton will each see their eligibility clocks expire after the 2013 season, leaving the cupboard bare assuming Nix enters the NFL draft. Because Vanderdoes was widely expected to assume the vacancy left behind by Nix, questions abound as to who will fill that role.
Clearly, the Vanderdoes situation has initiated a tidal wave of concerns to which answers are simply far and few between.
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