Eddie Vanderdoes hitting the big stage at U.S. Army All-American Bowl

By: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
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Eddie Vanderdoes always says his game rises to a higher level when he faces better competition.

The Placer High defensive lineman is once again backing up his words.

Vanderdoes has reportedly been one of the top performers at this week’s practices in San Antonio leading up to Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl Game, which will be televised on NBC at 10 a.m. and pits 90 of the finest high school football players in the country against each other before they sign their National Letters of Intent.

“I’ve picked it up a lot of notches,” Vanderdoes said by phone from Texas of his performances on the field this week. “I like playing against the best competition. It raises my level of play. I’m surprised I haven’t lost one single rep in one-on-one.”

It might not be surprising to locals in Vanderdoes’ hometown of Auburn that top-notch linemen throughout the nation can’t stop the 6-foot-4, 309-and-still-adding-pounds Vanderdoes. In his senior year, most opponents couldn’t either — without holding him or attempting to take out his knees, that is.

Big Eddie said playing against elite players, “makes me more explosive, more stronger and more angry.”

Vanderdoes’ weeklong trek to the Lone Star State for winter break hasn’t been all about butting heads, though.

He and the other Army All-Americans have kept busy bonding and doing community service.

Earlier in the week, Vanderdoes and Co. spent time with a Boys & Girls Club of America where they talked to youths, signed some autographs and got the opportunity to draw pictures with the children.

“It’s been great out here,” Vanderdoes said, “a great life experience.”

Vanderdoes, who’s been adjusting to the time change and cold climate, has also been busy dealing with a ton of reporters. Last week the word finally leaked to the national media and Twittersphere that Vanderdoes had decommitted from Southern California.

With the amount of tweets that can be found after a search of “@EddieVanderdoes” on the microblogging site, it’s quite surprising that his name hasn’t been trending.

One of the fallouts from the word of his decommitting getting out has been angry USC Trojans fans sending messages to Vanderdoes.

Vanderdoes has mixed feelings on the amount of messages being sent to his handle.

“You don’t mind attention if people are nice,” he said, “but you don’t want it if they’re being rotten.”

Vanderdoes received a much more positive response from his decommittment about 30 minutes after the news got out: He got a call from Tuscaloosa, Ala.

While Vanderdoes is still considering going to UCLA, Washington, Notre Dame and USC, the Crimson Tide of the SEC are now also being consider by Vanderdoes as a possible landing spot.

Vanderdoes plans on taking official visits to Notre Dame, USC and Bama in the coming weeks before national signing day on Feb. 6. He’s already visited UCLA and Washington.

Alabama has more appeal than just the great defensive mind of Nick Saban and the lure of winning national championships.

“They put guys in the first round overall in the NFL draft,” Vanderdoes said. “If you want to go in the NFL, that’s where you want to be.”

Vanderdoes will be sporting his usual No. 47 jersey playing for the West team Saturday, which will mark the first time he’s played on national television — and likely not the last.

In October, the Army game made a stop at Placer High to officially invite Vanderdoes to the game.

“It’s nice to be the first Army All-American to come out of Auburn,” Vanderdoes told the Journal at the time. “I’m really excited to represent Auburn.” 

Reach Matthew Kimel at Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel