Joey Montoya impressed with Army bowl, Eddie Vanderdoes representing AuburnBy: Matthew Kimel, Journal sports editor
To say Joey Montoya enjoyed his free trip to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl game featuring Placer High’s Eddie Vanderdoes would
be an understatement.
“It was a great trip,” the Hillmen football coach said last week. “We had some key note speakers, including (former Cincinnati Bengals
coach) Sam Wyche, (former Oakland Raiders running back) Marcus Allen and (Hall of Famer) Anthony Munoz.
“We got to hear from a general in the Army, which was the most inspiring of them all. The Army put on a first-class presentation.”
In between clinics and speakers, Montoya got a chance to chat with Vanderdoes and various service members during lunch and dinner time.
“Every meal we ate with people deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan and a ranking officer,” Montoya said. “Just to hear their stories, you have such respect for them.”
The coaching clinic Montoya and Hillmen assistant coach Ron Roskelley attended wasn’t Xs and Os based, but more about programs and perspective.
“We heard from a Texas coach, whose team won a state championship,” Montoya said. “It was so great to hear from a guy like that. You know, people really don’t really understand what head coaches go through unless you’re a head coach.
“… It was great to hear it. It reminded us what it’s all about — getting an opportunity to work with kids, mentor them and help them through this part of their life. It made me feel good about what we’re doing as well. It’s a lot more than about football and more how these guys turn in to great men.”
On the trip, Montoya got to watch one of his great men in Vanderdoes, who recorded a sack in an impressive performance throughout the Army all-star bowl.
Vanderdoes performed well enough that ESPN now has him ranked as the No. 1 defensive tackle in the nation for the 2013 recruiting class and the No. 10 overall player. Scout.com moved the Placer High product up to No. 9 in the country for its final top 300 list.
Montoya, who coached Vanderdoes for the past three years, was equally impressed.
“I was just so proud of Eddie, how he performed,” Montoya said. “Not only in the game but through the week. He stood out. He represented our community, our high school and program as well as anybody could.”
After the game, a few thousand fans, including little kids and their families, came down from the stands and on to the field to meet the
“Eddie was by far one of the few more popular people,” Montoya said.
“They got autographs. There were fans of Bama, USC, Notre Dame and they told him ‘Fight on’ and ‘Roll Tide.’ They all wanted him to come to their college.”
On Feb. 6, most likely at Placer High, Vanderdoes will announce which school he will sign his National Letter of Intent with. National
champion Alabama, UCLA, Notre Dame, Washington and Southern California are all in the running.
Coaches of the five schools have been in constant contact with the Vanderdoes family and Montoya over the past few weeks, especially since Vanderdoes decommitted from USC.
“I know it’s stressful for him and his family, but they’re going to make a decision that’s best for him and his future,” Montoya said.
“Not only for his education, this is an exciting time for Placer High School and our program and our community. Things like this don’t
happen very often. We’re fortunate to have a kid of his caliber.”
A lot of Montoya’s conversations these days revolve around Big Eddie. The Placer coach was even a special guest on a recent Alabama radio show, as college football fans throughout the nation are all curious where Vanderdoes will land.
“Whatever he decides is going to the right decision,” Montoya said. “We’re excited for his future. It’s going to be very bright.
“A guy like Eddie comes around once in a lifetime.”
Reach Matthew Kimel at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @matthewkimel