Ending weeks of speculation, Eddie Vanderdoes made it official Tuesday: He will not attend Notre Dame on a football scholarship and will instead play at UCLA.
Vanderdoes, the 6-foot-4, 305-pound All-America defensive end from Placer High School, expressed gratitude to Notre Dame in a text sent to The Bee for being "gracious" in the process of his reconsideration. He nearly signed with UCLA in February after a whirlwind recruiting process in which he was listed as a top-10 national recruit.
Vanderdoes did not explain why he changed his mind about Notre Dame, but he suggested the switch to UCLA is primarily because he wants to be closer to family.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said the school will not release Vanderdoes from the letter he signed in February, meaning Vanderdoes would need to sit out one season under NCAA rules. But Vanderdoes' father, Eddie Vanderdoes III, said they are hopeful Notre Dame will eventually grant him the release.
"Over the past four months," Vanderdoes wrote in the text, "circumstances have changed for me and my family. For very personal reasons, I feel a strong need to remain close to home and be near those who are most important in my life.
"I am honored and humbled that Notre Dame thought enough of me as a person and a football player to offer me a scholarship. They have been very gracious to recognize not only how difficult a decision this was, but also how important it was for me to be near my family at this time. I take my commitments seriously, but as circumstances changed, the most important commitment is the one made to family."
Vanderdoes' father said getting a release from a binding letter of intent includes appeals, which is a time-consuming process. The binding letter of intent to Notre Dame cannot prevent Vanderdoes from attending UCLA, but it does prevent him from playing immediately.
"We did not release him from his national letter of intent in order to protect the integrity of that very important program," Kelly said in a statement released by Notre Dame, "but we have worked with the Vanderdoes family so Eddie can continue his education this fall at a school closer to his home ... and we wish him well."
Vanderdoes III said in a phone conversation his son's decision was a private family matter, beyond a simple "change of heart."
UCLA coaches were expected to visit Vanderdoes at his Auburn home Wednesday evening. Vanderdoes will start taking classes during summer sessions beginning June 24, triggering the transfer rule.
"We're very excited to welcome Eddie to the Bruin family," said UCLA assistant coach and director of recruiting, Angus McClure. "We know what kind of quality person he is."
McClure added UCLA had no contact with Vanderdoes after he signed with Notre Dame.
Vanderdoes is hopeful that once he's enrolled at UCLA, he'll be released from his letter of intent. He's also hopeful it will be the end of a stressful period for he and his family.
"During the whole time, the biggest issue was not talking about some of this, because it is a process," Vanderdoes III said. "(Eddie) asked out of his letter in March. It's been weeks, then months. This statement at least cools things off and answers the main question of where he's going, and it let's him hopefully finish his senior year (at Placer) in peace with graduation on Saturday."