Eddie Vanderdoes' decision not to come to Notre Dame and instead attend UCLA was a blow to the future of the Irish's defensive line.
The 6-foot-3, 305-pound defensive lineman from Placer High School in Auburn, Calif., was expected to play behind either defensive end Stephon Tuitt or nose guard Louis Nix III this season. Then if Tuitt, a junior, and Nix, a senior with an option to return for a fifth year, both decided to leave for the NFL draft after this year, Vanderdoes was projected to take over one of the starting spots.
But it isn't all gloom and doom for the Irish's defensive line prospects as Tuitt and Nix will start this year likely alongside Sheldon Day, and Notre Dame has former Bishop Dwenger standout Tony Springmann, Kona Schwenke, Tyler Stockton, Justin Utupo and Jarron Jones in reserve.
Notre Dame also still brings in Isaac Rochell, a four-star prospect, and Jacob Matuska, a three-star prospect, on the defensive line this year, and the Irish have oral commitments from four-star defensive linemen Jay Hayes and Andrew Trumbetti for the 2014 recruiting class.
"Obviously, Eddie Vanderdoes was one of the best defensive players in the county, and defensive line and winning at the point of attack is most important when it comes to winning championships on Saturday," said Steve Wiltfong, 247Sports national writer. "So losing a guy like Eddie Vanderdoes is a blow, but at the same time, Notre Dame has a lot of capable front seven players that can soften that."
Wiltfong also said there are plenty of potential defensive line recruits Notre Dame can try to add for the 2014 recruiting class.
Wiltfong said the Irish have offers out to numerous defensive linemen in 6-3, 310-pound Lamont Gaillard of Fayetteville, N.C.; 6-4, 231-pound Andrew Williams of McDonough, Ga.; 6-5, 232-pound Lorenzo Carter of Norcross, Ga.; 6-7, 290-pound Malik McDowell of Detroit; 6-2, 325-pound Khairi Clark of Hollywood, Fla.; 6-2, 324-pound Josh Frazier of Springdale, Ark.; 6-5, and 275-pound Matt Dickerson of San Mateo, Calif. Wiltfong also said 6-3, 256-pound Solomon Thomas of Coppell, Texas, and 6-4, 240-pound Myle Garrett of Arlington, Texas, are slated to visit Notre Dame this month.
Carter, Gaillard and Garrett are rated five-star recruits by 247Sports; Williams, Clark, McDowell, Frazier and Thomas are four-star recruits and Dickerson is a three-star prospect.
"Khairi Clark and Josh Frazier are the big defensive tackle targets for Notre Dame right now to fill the shoes of Louis Nix," Wiltfong said. "There are targets on the board.
"There's still a long way to go until national signing day in February, and guys that may not even be considered to be on the radar right now will end up signing with Notre Dame down the road. … The situation is always fluid and new names are going to pop up or Notre Dame is going to gain traction with names that they haven't yet.
"The list of defensive line prospects on Notre Dame's board is not short."