If you believe the latest rumors surrounding Notre Dame Football and its prized recruit, 5-star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, there's a chance the young man won't be taking his talents to South Bend.
According to Lou Somogyi of 247Sports.com, there are rumors that Vanderdoes "might not be enrolling" at Notre Dame. Furthermore, he is reportedly favoring UCLA:
A groundswell of Internet message board speculation that exploded on Monday has indicated that Vanderdoes might not be enrolling with the 24-man Fighting Irish class for summer school and workouts that begin Monday, June 17.
Reportedly, the Bruins now seem to be the favorite for Vanderdoes. Messages left by Blueandgold.com to Vanderdoes and his family to confirm or deny the rumors went unanswered, and Notre Dame has not issued any public statements either.
Some of the stuff that was being talked about on the Internet message boards had to do with potential character concerns and/or bad grades, but Mike Davidson of the Sacramento Bee—a man who's been working closely with Vanderdoes and his family—refuted those claims:
Vanderdoes' coaches continued to rave about his upstanding character on Monday, and his father Eddie Vanderdoes on Monday night texted of his son, "One thing I can tell you is grades or eligibility is not and has never been an issue."
He also has no idea whether or not the young man has changed his mind about Notre Dame, per his Twitter account:
@stringqb No updates on Eddie Vanderdoes in any regard. Will update accordingly— Joe Davidson (@SacBee_JoeD) May 22, 2013
With all this speculation, it's important to realize that Vanderdoes may still be intending to attend Notre Dame this summer. That said, should he make the decision to go elsewhere, it would could mean trouble for the Fighting Irish in the next couple of years.
Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt—the team's two top defensive linemen—will both likely head to the NFL after this season.
Vanderdoes, at 6'2" and 310 pounds, is an incredibly strong young man and would be perfectly suited to replace Nix in the middle of Brian Kelly's 3-4 scheme. Should he decide to go elsewhere, however, Kelly doesn't have another player coming up that could possibly impact his defense like Vanderdoes.
The only other player who could potentially play the nose right now, if you look at current players and incoming freshmen, is sophomore Sheldon Day, who measures in at 6'5" and 299 pounds.
Incoming freshmen Jacob Matuska and Isaac Rochell are both 260 pounds or lighter and better suited to play on the edge as pass-rushers (or at best as 3-4 defensive ends).
How much would losing Vanderdoes hurt the Irish in 2014?
Should Vanderdoes decide to take his talents elsewhere, Kelly and the Notre Dame defense could really struggle in 2014 against the run.
Perhaps one solution might be to convert to a 4-3 defensive scheme that would be better a better fit for the team's roster, but that's not likely a move Kelly would be willing to make for the long-term success of the program.
This story isn't going away any time soon.
If Vanderdoes and his family continue to keep Notre Dame, its fans and the media in the dark about their intentions, then speculation and rumors will only continue to gain momentum.
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReed78