The big kid who goes by "Big Eddie" isn't always so big on himself. He usually displays more modesty than bravado, but Eddie Vanderdoes couldn't help himself.
Vanderdoes, a defensive tackle from Placer High School, discovered something others have known for months: He's much better than good.
Vanderdoes earned top honors in two practices this week while preparing for today's U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
Even among the top high school seniors in the country, the 6-foot-4, 308-pound Vanderdoes has stood tall on the national stage.
"I'm having a blast, and I'm a little surprised, but I haven't lost a single rep," Vanderdoes said by phone Friday. "So far, I've destroyed people. It's been a little eye-opening, going against the best guys in the country."
Vanderdoes has been opening eyes for more than a year.
"I've done high school football games on TV for 13 years, and he's the best defensive lineman I've seen," said Mike Lamb, the former USC standout offensive lineman who lives in Placer County. "He's an 'Oh, my God' kind of kid. What separates him is his leverage and strength. He can play at any college he's that good."
Jon Osterhout, an Oakmont High graduate who was an All-America offensive lineman at Sacramento State and has coached for 13 years, is equally impressed. He runs the Linemen Win Games instructional camps.
"He definitely passes the eyeball test and has all the redeeming qualities you look for in a 'no-brainer' prospect," said Osterhout, who also coaches at American River College. "However, you never really know how great a player is until you have the opportunity to work with them."
Osterhout said Vanderdoes was an "immediate, eye-opening jaw dropper. His size, flexibility, explosiveness, football IQ and sheer power were evident in the first 20 minutes."
Osterhout said LWG coaches and athletes were awed by Vanderdoes.
"He jumped in the agility-bag portion and struck one of my staff members, Mason Mitchell, so hard on a minimum-contact pass rush move that I had to stop the drill to check on him," Osterhout said. "On the rusty, old five-man blocking sled, Eddie made an eerie sound that signified the power (Ndamukong) Suh displayed at Nebraska during my two years working with him."
In a drill designed to separate and shed defensive linemen, Vanderdoes once "ripped the vinyl covering off the Styrofoam blocking shield, and in 13 years of coaching, I haven't seen anything like it," Osterhout said. "This may seem (like) things legends are made of, but you know you are witnessing greatness.
"Eddie's very self-critical and as humble as they come, which will make him a tremendous 'get' for the university of his choice."
But which school? Most of the top programs in the country want him. Vanderdoes gave a verbal commitment to USC in the summer and expected "normalcy" to return to his life amid stacks of recruiting mail, Internet and social media speculation and a blown-up cell phone.
Vanderdoes last month backed away from his commitment to USC to better gauge his next move and to accept other recruiting trips. He visited UCLA and enjoyed the experience with position coach Angus McClure, the former Sac State assistant. He went to Washington and was shown around campus by former Grant High standout Shaq Thompson. He will make an official visit to USC on Jan. 18 and is planning visits to Notre Dame and Alabama, who will meet in Monday's BCS championship game.
"It's a life decision," Vanderdoes said. "It's not an easy decision. It's eating at me. I'm losing a lot of sleep. I need to take my time."
After he makes his formal announcement Feb. 6, perhaps a bit of normalcy will return.