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May 27, 2012
Vanderdoes takes pro approach to Challenge
Dallas Jackson is the National High School Sports Analyst for Rivals. Email him your questions and comments at DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
The life of a major college football prospect has few similarities to that of a regular teenager. Placer (Calif.) strongside defensive end Eddie Vanderdoes knows this all too well.
The No. 3-ranked player at his position and No. 21 overall player in the country has been on the national radar since early in his sophomore year. The exposure has pushed him to grow up fast.
"This process makes you an adult quickly," he said. "You have to mature fast and really make it a strong point about yourself.
"Besides the schoolwork and trying to be with your friends, you are balancing phone calls and making sure calls are answered and returned, meeting coaches, and you have to learn to shake hands like a man and be a professional."
Pushing upwards of 40 scholarship offers would indicate that Vanderdoes has figured out how to handle his business. He has already scheduled three of his five official visits, deciding to go to Penn State, Oregon, and Nebraska.
One other trip he plans to make is to Atlanta to participate in the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge from June 22-24 at Lakewood Stadium.
"To be a part of the first group to attend this camp is special," Vanderdoes said. "It really is an honor to be considered among the best, and having this chance to prove it is amazing."
Although there has already been plenty of attention paid to the 6-foot-4 defensive end, his attendance at the invitation-only camp and lineman challenge will come with plenty of nerves.
"This will be my first major camp," he said. "It will be nerve-racking to go against all guys that are on the same level as me and some guys that could be ranked higher than me."
Bigelow is the No. 2 defensive end in the nation and Liner is the No. 4-ranked player at the same position. The trio figure to draw comparisons against one another from the full team of Rivals.com analysts and videographers that will be in attendance for the inaugural event.
Vanderdoes understands that the successes and failures of the three will be measured against each other, but he will not get into that comparison for himself.
"I really hope all of the defensive lineman are successful as a group," he said. "I know that (Bigelow and Liner) will be great players, but you can't compare yourself to other players because each one of us, I am sure, has a different style of play.
"It is more important to me to go and compete against the offensive lineman and improve. If I can work my technique and improve my footwork and balance, it will be great."
Vanderdoes said that his biggest strength is his speed for his size, and at 307 pounds - up from 285 during the season - he added his technique and locking out are among his other strong points. He also acknowledged that the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge is a place that his weaknesses will be put on display as well as strengths.
"I need to work on my initial attack," he said. "On the pass rush I need to get there and attack and then start working my swim moves."
The ever-competitive player said that he expects to enjoy his trip and hopes to balance his time off the field with the time on it.
"I am a really nice guy, so I think I can make some friends and get to know some guys," he said. "But football is a violent game, even in a camp, so when that switch comes on, it is a different ballgame.
"Everyone will be trying to showcase themselves and that is all part of the process."
Mike Farrell's take
Vanderdoes is a massive defensive end who could end up inside in college; we will be looking to see where he projects based on his agility, quickness and ability to work outside in space in the one-on-ones. On film, he plays straight up on the tight end or inside often, so he's very good with his hands and shedding blocks, but his quickness on film really stands out, as does his motor. This kid is on the cusp of five-star status based on his ranking, so can he make the push to that coveted level?