Eddie Vanderdoes Eligible to Play in 2013 Makes UCLA Extremely Dangerous
That's good news for the Bruins, because according to David Woods of BruinReportOnline.com, Vanderdoes won his appeal with the NCAA and is eligible to play in 2013:
Vanderdoes, who signed with Notre Dame in February, made the decision to instead attend UCLA in order to be closer to his family. Initially, Notre Dame denied his request to be let out of the National Letter of Intent, and Vanderdoes went into the NCAA appeal process.
On Tuesday, Vanderdoes was declared eligible during the second appeal process. The decision was particularly important for Vanderdoes as it preserves a year of eligibility for the former five-star defensive tackle. Under the rules of the NLI, by breaking the contract, Vanderdoes could have lost a year of eligibility, giving him just four years to play three.
On his own, Vanderdoes is merely one player, and in the game of football, one player is not enough to win the game. What that one player brings to the table can add quite a lift to a team, though, especially when that team is on the rise. Add him to the right group of players, and things could start clicking.
UCLA is indeed a program on the rise, and Vanderdoes could help the Bruins take the next step.
He's physically gifted enough to play right away as a freshman, and that's huge, because UCLA will need him as a defensive end in the 3-4 scheme. With Datone Jones moving on to the NFL, sophomore Owamagbe Odighizuwa was expected to be the guy to fill Jones' shoes. Unfortunately, it looks like Odighizuwa will miss the 2013 season with a hip injury, so that opens up an opportunity for Vanderdoes.
He'll have to compete with senior Keenan Graham and junior Brandon Willis, but Vanderdoes is certainly talented enough to at the very least get some reps at defensive end. Frankly, he's talented enough to start.
Vanderdoes is 6'2'', 310 pounds, so he's big enough to command two gaps as a 3-4 defensive end. He's big, but also extremely strong. Not only will he be able to maintain gap responsibility, but he'll break up a few double teams. What makes Vanderdoes really stand out, though, is his quickness and fundamentals. He shoots out of his stance and has the speed to come down the line and chase down ball-carriers. He plays with good leverage, uses his hands well and should even be able rush the passer in UCLA's scheme.
He'll command a ton of attention on the defensive line, and that should open up opportunities for the Bruins' linebacking squad, led by senior Anthony Barr, to make plays.
Vanderdoes' presence will also help out his fellow defensive lineman.
Senior Cassius Marsh will benefit from having Vanderdoes on the other side of the line from him, and nose tackle Seali'i Epenesa will see more favorable fronts with offensive lines having to account for Vanderdoes on every snap.
With Vanderdoes at defensive end, both Marsh and Epenesa could have marquee years, and a defensive front that formidable will be sure to give Pac-12 offensive coordinators nightmares this season.
It's also worth noting that any good front seven will automatically help improve the secondary. UCLA fans should be on the lookout for two stellar incoming freshman who will be counted on to produce in the defensive backfield, 4-star cornerback Priest Willis and 4-star safety Tahaan Goodman.
In a secondary unit that's "essentially starting over," according to Rich Cirminiello of Scout.com, those two could infuse some major talent into the secondary. Either way, UCLA looks solid in the front seven, and that will only help out the defensive backs.
The Bruins gave up 415.9 yards per game in 2012 (cfbstats.com) and still managed to reach to the Pac-12 championship game. Much of that can be attributed to an offense led by Brett Hundley. The quarterback will be back at it again in 2013, as he attempts to make the jump to the elite level of signal-callers in the country.
Hundley should be able to take the next step, but role players will have to rise up around him on offense. Defensively, there are some question marks, but Jim Mora and his staff did a great job of finding potential stars through recruiting.
Vanderdoes is one of those potential stars, and his presence alone could really help the Bruins take the next step and win the Pac-12 in 2013.
Every year, there are teams we know will be elite and then teams that have the potential to be extremely dangerous. It's not because of Vanderdoes alone, but look for UCLA to be a very dangerous draw on the schedule in 2013.
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