Five-star Vanderdoes officially drops Irish for UCLA

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And thus ends the months-long saga of five-star recruit Eddie Vanderdoes.  We think.

A five-star member of Notre Dame’s 2013 recruiting class, questions regarding the defensive lineman’s actual commitment to the Irish surfaced shortly after National Signing Day.  UCLA was widely viewed as the frontrunner for the Auburn, Cal., player’s services until an official visit to South Bend a week before signing day prompted a flip.

That’s now become a double-back reverse flip, however, as Vanderdoes confirmed in a statement to the Sacramento Bee that Notre Dame has rescinded its initial recruiting ban and allowed the tackle to sign with the Bruins.  Vanderdoes said in the statement that he had “very personal reasons” for wanting to “remain close to home.”

“I am honored and humbled that Note Dame thought enough of me as a person and a football player to offer me a scholarship,” a portion of Vanderdoes’ statement read. “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.”

UCLA head coach Jim Mora subsequently made it officially official by welcoming Vanderdoes “to the Bruin Family” via Twitter.

According to ESPN.com‘s Joe Schad, however, the Irish did not release Vanderdoes from his National Letter of Intent, which would mean the player would be forced to sit out the 2013 season.  Vanderdoes will still be on scholarship and permitted to practice with his new teammates, although he would give up a year of eligibility for breaking his Notre Dame NLI.  Such a scenario would leave him four years to use three seasons of eligibility.

One of Notre Dame’s concerns, the Bee reported, was that Vanderdoes would sign with UCLA’s cross-town rival USC.  The Irish and the Trojans, obviously, have an annual rivalry game of their own and led in part to the initial recruiting ban.

Regardless of the whys and hows of the situation, it’s yet another personnel blow for the Irish and a huge pickup for the Bruins.

Vanderdoes was rated by Rivals.com as the nation’s No. 2 defensive tackle and No. 21 player at any position.  In talent-rich California, the 6-3, 310-pound lineman was ranked as the No. 3 player in the state.

(Photo credit: U.A. Army All-American Bowl)

Clemson QB Tucker Israel enters his name in graduate transfer market

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Tucker Israel has yet to see significant action during his time at Clemson. With Kelly Bryant coming back and No. 1 quarterback recruit Trevor Lawrence joining the roster, that wasn’t likely to change.

So Israel (the non-Deshaun Watson player pictured above) is leaving.

“My time here at Clemson will always hold a special plate in my heart,” Israel said in a Twitter post released by the school. “I enjoyed every minute being here & thank Coach Swinney for believing in me. After much consideration, I plan on transferring upon getting my degree from this amazing university.”

A former 3-star recruit, Israel redshirted in 2015, threw four passes in 2016 and did not play in 2017. The Orlando, Fla., native will have two years of eligibility remaining upon arriving at his new destination.

Shane Beamer reportedly leaving Georgia for Oklahoma

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After you beat them, join them? Georgia special teams coordinator Shane Beamer is on his way to Oklahoma to become an offensive assistant coach at Oklahoma, according to multiple reports on Monday.

At Georgia, Beamer held the role of special teams coordinator and tight ends coach. At Oklahoma, it is reported Beamer will take on an assistant head coach title and assist head coach Lincoln Riley in preparing the offensive game plan for the Sooners. Beamer was with the Georgia staff for two years under Kirby Smart after leaving Virginia Tech to join the coaching staff in Athens.

Beamer is the son of former Virgina Tech head coach Frank Beamer. Georgia defeated Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl, which was a semifinal game for the College Football Playoff last season.

There is no update on how Smart will replace Beamer on his coaching staff at this time, but Dawg Nation notes Georgia has already lost special teams advisor Scott Fountain to join the coaching staff at Mississippi State.

 

Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Saquon Barkley among Lombardi Award finalists

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The list of Lombardi Award candidates has been whittled down to a list of seven select finalists for this year’s award. A week after a list of 21 candidates was unveiled, only seven remain after a panel of voters cast their initial ballots for the award.

2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, Heisman Trophy runner-up Bryce Love of Stanford, and 2016 Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson of Louisville highlight the list of finalists for the Lombardi Award. Other finalists include Saquon Barkley of Penn State, Minkah Fitzpatrick of Alabama, Shaquen Griffin of UCF and Joel Lanning of Iowa State.

The Lombardi Award has a new trophy and criteria this season after opening the award up to any position after previously being reserved for the top lineman or linebacker in the nation. The award is based on performance, leadership, character and resiliency on and off the field.

Lombardi Award Finalists for 2017 Season

  • Saquon Barkley, Penn State (RB)
  • Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama (S)
  • Shaquem Griffin, UCF (LB)
  • Lamar Jackson, Louisville (QB)
  • Joel Lanning, Iowa State (LB/QB)
  • Bryce Love, Stanford (RB)
  • Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma (QB)

Alabama’s Jonathan Allen won the award for the 2016 season. Carl Nassib of Penn State won the award in 2015, meaning Barkley and Fitzpatrick are attempting to win another Lombardi Award for their school. Oklahoma is the only other school with a Lombardi Award among the schools represented by the finalists for this season’s award. Iowa State, Louisville, Stanford and UCF are all looking for their first Lombardi Award winner in school history. Oklahoma has three all-time Lombardi Award winners, and Alabama and Penn State each have two.

QB Wilton Speight holding off graduate transfer decision

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Former Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight is going to take his time evaluating all of his options before making a final decision. After previously announcing his decision to leave Michigan behind, Speight will reportedly not enroll at a new school until the summer, which gives him more time to decide where exactly he would like to continue his college football career.

According to a report from The Detroit News, Speight felt rushed to make a decision on a transfer between graduating from Michigan and January enrollment periods at potential landing spots. It would have been an ideal situation to be able to enroll in January and be eligible to participate in spring practices with his new program if possible, but it is also wise to not rush to a decision that Speight may end up regretting.

Because Speight will not be available for spring practices anywhere, The Detroit News reports Speight plans to stay in shape and train in Los Angeles. Joining a new program in the summer should still allow him an opportunity to step in and compete for a starting job, depending on where he ends up.

Speight announced his decision to transfer from Michigan as a graduate transfer in late November, and he later confirmed there would be some restrictions placed on his pending transfer. Per Speight, Michigan has blocked any potential transfer to another Big Ten program and any non-conference opponent on Michigan’s 2018 schedule (Notre Dame, Western Michigan, SMU). At the time, Speight said he was not joining the Wolverines for the bowl game because he was intending to enroll in January. With January nearly over, the next window for a transfer will have to wait until the summer.

As a graduate transfer, Speight will be eligible to play with his new football program this fall.