It was a Thursday night during the beginning of the high school football season in 2009, at the freshman game of my old alma mater Placer High school, that I got my first look at Eddie Vanderdoes. While standing on the sidelines talking to my good friend Joey Montoya, the head varsity football coach, I heard the announcer’s voice echoing in the background and the cheers coming from the crowd.
As we shot a glance at where the play was taking place, there was this kid, slightly over 6 feet tall, and north of 200 pounds, bulldozing the quarterback. Turning to Joey I asked, “That kid is a freshman? Who is he?”
“Eddie Vanderdoes,” was his reply. “He’s going to be special.”
That night, he was all over the field. He was routinely getting in the face of the quarterback and making plays on defense. More often than not, when there was a play being made Eddie was either in on the tackle or harassing the quarterback. He was clearly a man amongst boys. It was hard to believe he was only a freshman. He was light years ahead of anyone on that field, talent wise.
During his sophomore year, they brought him up to the varsity and that was my first opportunity to see him on a daily basis. During one of the early practices that season, I remember sitting there observing him throughout the entire practice. One of the first things that struck me about him was humbleness and his work ethic. There have been a number of talented kids come up through the high school ranks through the years that carry with them cockiness, and a sense of entitlement. They think their talent alone will get them by, and they are unwilling to put in the hard work that it takes to become great. Eddie was the polar opposite of that.
From day one that year, he came to practice day in and day out and worked his butt off. He’d be on the field doing drills with our D-line coach, Dennis Murphy, working tirelessly and honing his skills, pretty much daily. He suffered through some growing pains, but he never complained or ran his mouth. He just kept at it.
He was a great teammate too. He was very personable kid who fit right in with the rest of the group and never put himself above the team. He was the farthest thing from cocky. As the season went on, he improved week in and week out, as a solid contributor on the defensive side of the ball. By the end of that season, he had grown from a raw talent to a bona fide stud in the making.
The following August heading into his junior year, I headed up to watch two-a-days. It was something else to see how much he had grown in just eight months. Following a summer in the weight room, he had really begun to fill out body wise, pushing 280-pounds plus.
Seeing him on the practice field I was blown away by his speed, because guys his size aren’t supposed to move that quick. I had never seen anything like it at the high school level. Heck, I have known guys half his size that couldn’t move as fast as him. It was amazing.
From game one last season he was in a league of his own. Nobody could block him. He routinely dominated opposing offensive lineman, tossing them aside with ease. He pretty much did whatever he wanted. Opponents would routinely double team him, but it didn’t matter, he would still find a way to make plays. His motor was unbelievable. He never stopped till the whistle blew. He was absolutely relentless.
There was one play during the playoffs last year that stands out in my mind that really exemplifies what a unique player he is. He was going up against offensive lineman who were pretty close to his size. On this particular play he blew past the guard and just leveled the quarterback. Somehow the quarterback was able to get the ball off to the running back, so Eddie gets up and sprints down field about 10-15 yards and makes the tackle on the running back. It was unreal.
Players of Eddie’s caliber truly do not come along very often. The scary thing is that he has just begun to scratch the surface. Trojan fans everywhere should be thrilled at the prospects of watching him perform every Saturday in future years. This blog is just a brief glimpse of what the faithful can expect to see when he dons the cardinal and gold in 2013!