Many Penn State fans were pleasantly surprised when it was discovered last week that the Nittany Lions had offered four-star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, and it has nothing to do with his talent. Vanderdoes is the first (and so far, only) Class of 2013 recruit with a scholarship offer from Penn State that lives west of Illinois. His offer, and the timing thereof, signifies a new, nationwide approach to recruiting under Coach O'Brien.
Vanderdoes is ranked as the No. 5 defensive tackle in the Class of 2013 by 247Sports, and could project anywhere along the line in college. Playing both inside and outside in a 4-4 defense at Placer High School in Auburn, CA (about 35 miles northeast of Sacramento), Vanderdoes is being recruited at both tackle and end positions by colleges.
BSD: You recently got an offer from Penn State. How are things going in the process in general, and who else do you have offers from?
Eddie Vanderdoes: Everything is going great, I'm still trying to get used to the process. So far it's been good, really fun. I talked to the Penn State coach, the defensive line coach, Coach Johnson. He's a very good guy, very up front and honest with me, and I really like that. Other recent offers include Notre Dame, Michigan, Colorado, Boise State.
BSD: Do you have any early favorites?
EV: No early leaders at this point. I'm just taking it all in. I'm open to any program.
BSD: What about location? Penn State is obviously a few thousand miles away - are you looking to stay on the West Coast, are you open to going to the East Coast, and so on?
EV: I'm open up to going anywhere in the nation. I'm definitely looking to taking visits down there [on the East Coast].
BSD: Do you have any visits currently planned?
EV: It's still early in the process, I don't have any visits planned. I've been to Cal three times, I went up to USC and UCLA about two weeks ago, and I've been up to Oregon State. I really like all of the places I've visited. I liked the campuses, I liked the coaching staffs.
BSD: What about your position? Where are you being recruited, and what are schools telling you?
EV: Some want me at defensive tackle, most want me at defensive end, and others want me at a hybrid d-end/linebacker. At Penn State, Coach Johnson wants me as an interior guy. He wants me as a defensive tackle. I love playing all over the line, I'm open to playing wherever coach wants me.
BSD: Where do you play during the season now?
EV: It's actually pretty equal between tackle and end, because we do a lot of shifting; we run a flex defense.
BSD: Are you going to any camps or combines?
EV: I'm going to a [Nike Football Training Camp] sometime soon. I don't think I'll be going to any college camps. Hopefully the NFTC camp gets me to The Opening, that's one of my big goals, to get there.
BSD: What about your commitment timelines? When do you think you'll make a decision?
EV: It could be sooner than later, it could be later than sooner. I'm open to anyone; it could be a few months, it could be near the end.
BSD: Do the issues of the past few months at Penn State have any bearing on your recruitment, or are you keeping an open mind throughout the process?
EV: I'm keeping an open mind to everybody. It doesn't bother me if a program hasn't been winning as much. [What's more important] are the defensive line coach and the players I'm going to be bonding with, how are they going to take care of me academically, and all that good stuff.
BSD: What are you looking to study when you get into school?
EV: I want to stay in the sports field, and maybe get into business. I like kinesiology.
BSD: Anything else about Penn State stand out to you?
EV: Coach Johnson really sticks out to me. When I was talking to him, I really like what he had to say to me. He's really honest, I could tell that he wasn't lying to me. He said he has a plan for me, so that was good to hear. I know that [Penn State] puts a lot of guys in the [NFL] and that's one of my goals. Coach Johnson seems to be [putting a lot of guys in the NFL], so that's a plus.
(Editor's Note: Not that it comes as a surprise to anyone who has followed Larry Johnson's career as a recruiter at Penn State, but Eddie's take on Johnson was shared by his father, also named Eddie. I spoke with the elder Vanderdoes before speaking with his son, and he had this to say about Johnson: "As a father, I was impressed with Coach Johnson's analysis of my son and straight forward, honest attitude. When I talked to [Coach Johnson], he did his homework and discussed in detail [Eddie's] ability and film which proved his words were honest.")