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One-on-One: Eddie Vanderdoes, UCLA DL

Fri, Apr 14, 2017

Reese's Senior Bowl: Eddie, let's start off with the versatility to your game being able to play inside or outside. Where do you see yourself moving on in your future?
Eddie Vanderdoes: I definitely can play wherever I'm needed at. I can play the 3-tech, the nose, the 4i, I can play the 5, especially at the weight that I'm at right now. Coming from college, I played in a 3-4 defense and a 4-3 so I have a lot of knowledge and versatility when it comes to defensive schemes. So I'm definitely open for both. 

RSB: How has this whole process been going for you so far? It started off here in January at the Reese's Senior Bowl and since then you've gone through the NFL Combine and your pro day completing the Triple Crown of the NFL Draft process, checking every box. 
Eddie Vanderdoes: It was fun. I've had a good time doing all three of those, experiencing all the things I've been watching since I was a little kid and being able to live it. It's unreal to me so I've been happy and grateful for the opportunities that I've had. 

RSB: You've been watching the Senior Bowl and the Combine since you were a little kid, are there any vivid memories or players that really stuck out to you?
Eddie Vanderdoes: Combine, mostly like d-linemen or top guys that you always hear about coming out of college to the combine, you always hear guys talking about them. And then watching them run their 40s and doing all that so it has always been a goal to be put in that position. Senior Bowl as well, I've always watched it on TV or heard about guys on my team when I was a freshman in college that were going to the Senior Bowl and that was an opportunity to help themselves a lot. It was a cool experience. 

RSB: Can you compare the two experiences for us, going through the Senior Bowl week and the NFL Combine?
Eddie Vanderdoes: I think the Senior Bowl week definitely prepares you for the Combine, in my opinion. I think the Combine was a breeze. Senior Bowl - you got all those things the Combine has but practice on top of that. Then giving back to Mobile, the community, signing autographs and all that. I was very pleased and happy I was able to do the Senior Bowl, I was able to talk to a lot of the coaches there, a lot of the scouts there, so I was able to knock out all of the basic information and get to know one another so when I got to the Combine we were all on good terms and I was able to talk to them normally and get past the basic information stuff so it was really good. It made the combine process a lot easier that I was able to do the Senior Bowl and I'm very happy about that. 

RSB: Eddie, there was one point where we didn't know you were eligible for the Senior Bowl and I don't think you even knew you were eligible for the Senior Bowl and it all kind of came about late in the process. We thought you were a redshirt junior and then we were told you were a senior. Is there anything that you can help clarify for us?
Eddie Vanderdoes: So, I did come out early. So what the NCAA rule sets it up and how UCLA did is there's no point of putting that redshirt on me unless I was coming back for my fifth year. I decided to opt out into the draft early, which actually benefitted me a lot because I didn't have to use that redshirt junior year so I'm very thankful for that. So I was able to play in the Senior Bowl and perform. 

RSB: You go through your final year with the Bruins coming off the ACL injury. It didn't look like you were 100 percent back to your old self when you came back in 2016, do you feel like you're all the way back now from the ACL injury?
Eddie Vanderdoes: Yeah, yeah, 100 percent. During the season, it wasn't even so much the knee. I had suffered three ankle sprains throughout the season and I wanted to go out there and play for my team and keep playing. After coming off a year of missing football, I just really wanted to be able out there to play regardless of the circumstances. I played through some pain this year and I had got through it but I'm happy that I was able to complete the season. I didn't have the best season out of the three seasons that I had but I'm grateful that I was able to play that whole season. 

RSB: I read that you got up to 340 pounds during the season, is that accurate?
Eddie Vanderdoes: Yeah, yeah weight had kept me back a little bit. I checked into fall camp around 332. I felt fine, felt good. And then some of those hdering injuries kind of caught up and I gained a couple more pounds and just kind of went downhill from there. I don't regret anything so it was definitely a learning experience to exactly where I play my best football at, which is the weight that I'm at right now which is around 302-303. So I'm very happy I got to experience that. I'm back down and ready to go for whatever team I'm on. 

RSB: You're 340 in the season, you come to Mobile at 320 and then you go check in at the NFL Combine at 305, that's a loss of 20 pounds in a short amount of time each time you did it. Take us through what the process was like for you. 
Eddie Vanderdoes: I was doing extra workouts. I was working out at EXOS in Arizona. Our nutritionist, Michelle there, she pieced together a very, very good plan for me - exactly what I needed to achieve my goals and the goal was when I got there I wanna get down to 305 by the time the combine comes around. And they believed in me and I believed in the process too and I did everything they asked of me and I did extra to make sure that I was able to achieve that goal and I'm able to take some things that I learned from nutritionist there at EXOS exactly what my body needs and what my body doesn't need. 

RSB: What did you learn going through this 4-8 season? You're highly regarded and then your quarterback, Josh Rosen, goes down and that changes a lot of things for you as a team. 
Eddie Vanderdoes: You gotta stick and you gotta ride with your brothers. In hard times like that, you gotta stick together. You gotta be able to be a fox-holed guy that's able to be in it with your family when things aren't going the best. Those eight games that we lost, it's not like we had gave up on the season or anything. All the games that we lost came down to the last drive, last play of the game. Unfortunately, it wasn't in our plan for us to win those games but I definitely think we did not quit at all in any of those games. We played every game like we were undefeated. 

RSB: Well Josh Rosen is the guy that everybody is buzzing about and he's going to be the talk of this college football offseason and maybe even the talk of NFL draft season next season depending on what he decides to do, can you give us some insight into what type of guy and teammate Josh Rosen is like?
Eddie Vanderdoes: He's a great guy. Me and Josh, when he first got here as an early enrollee, we kicked it off really well. He's a very humble kid, good kid. A good teammate as well and someone you can get all along with. I think he has potential to be obviously the No. 1 overall pick this upcoming draft so I think he's got a bright future this season and I think he's gonna help exactly what needs to be done at UCLA so I'm really happy for Josh and I think he's gonna do well this season. 

RSB: Can you take us through some of the other returning Bruins and who to watch next season?
Eddie Vanderdoes: Seniors this year, Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, he is the defensive end that we have, he'll be a senior this year. I think he's gonna be a huge impact on that defense. Matt Dickerson, who was backing me up last year, he's gonna have a great season as well I think. So those are two guys on the d-line to watch out for. Linebacker Kenny Young is a four-year starter so you can expect big things out of him as well. I think we got a lot of potential on that defensive side of the ball this year to perform and be future NFL draft picks. 

RSB: Last year, you watched your defensive line mate Kenny Clark go in the first round, 26th overall to the Green Bay Packers. What did you take away from that?
Eddie Vanderdoes: I was happy for him. Me and Kenny came in together, same recruiting class. We've been best friends pretty much the whole time. Being able to work next to him, I was very happy to see how his hard work paid off and all the extra hours he put in on the film room and on the field to make sure that dream was attainable. 

RSB: And what about Takk McKinley? Who's quicker in your respective games, you or Takk?
Eddie Vanderdoes: That's hard. Takk is like a cheetah out on the field. He's very fast. But I think I have short-area quickness as well. I think it's about even. But if we get into the open field, Takk takes that easy. 

RSB: You go back to your recruitment, you were a 5-star recruit, it came down to Notre Dame and UCLA and there was the controversy at the early part of your career. When you look back on that situation, what do you think about?
Eddie Vanderdoes: I think everything happens for a reason. There's a reason why I ended up at UCLA and I don't regret it at all. Certain agreements weren't upheld on certain parts and it just didn't work out on both parties so it was best for us to part ways (at Notre Dame). 

RSB: In your UCLA bio, it says that you admire LeBron James, Ray Lewis and Ndamukong Suh. What is it that you admire about those three big-time athletes?
Eddie Vanderdoes: LeBron James, he's the best basketball player on the planet in my opinion. I've always admired him. His playing ability, I love how he plays. Ndamukong Suh, I admire his nastiness on the field, how physical and strong he is. Ray Lewis' tenacity and a leader on the field, I love how much he loves the game of football and I think it's definitely something you can take is his mindset away from that. 

RSB: Ray Lewis is obviously one of the most motivational professional athletes in recent memory. What is the motivation for you, what gets you going every day when you wake up?
Eddie Vanderdoes: Prove people wrong. Doubters. I think that's my biggest motivation is getting up and doing what they told me I couldn't do and being able to go out there and exceed my expectations and seeing the look on people's faces when I do that. I think it's funny when people are shocked I do certain things. When I go out there and run a good 40 or go and show how strong, powerful and explosive I am, I think things like that, it just drives me to wake up every morning and do what I do, just show people who I am and who Eddie really is. 

RSB: How has the visit circuit been going for you, have you been making a lot of team visits?
Eddie Vanderdoes: The circuit visits been going good. I just got back from Atlanta, I had a good visit there. It's going well. I'm ready to be part of a football team again and get back to work on a team and contribute in the best way I can contribute and what they see me as. 

RSB: So what's it finally going to be like when you get your named called?
Eddie Vanderdoes: Happy. Like 98 percent of people who are getting ready for this process, they've dreamt of this moment since they were 10-11 years old and it's always been a goal for a lot of us, especially myself. So hearing my name called will be surreal and it's definitely an opportunity and a moment I will cherish for the rest of my life and the work just begins there, it doesn't end. 

RSB: Before we let you go, what was your favorite part of the week you spent at the Reese's Senior Bowl?
Eddie Vanderdoes: Best part of the Reese's Senior Bowl? I think the autographs was fun. It was nice seeing a lot of fans out there in Mobile. It was fun being able to give back to those people that have been watching you in college for years and now you finally get to meet them face-to-face and they're all happy to get your autograph and whatnot. It was cool giving back and doing all that, just being able to take that all in like 'wow, I'm really here at the Senior Bowl playing' and these fans that I've had since I was in high school are coming up to me and I'm giving them autographs so I really enjoyed that and cherish those moments. 

RSB: It definitely doesn't matter if you're a California and a Pac-12 player, Mobile, Alabama has some of the best college football fans in the country and they know who you are.
Eddie Vanderdoes: That was definitely really interesting to me. I thought going out to the south, it'd be a little more SEC-bias. I mean, it was a little bit, but the amount of Pac-12 fans out there, I was blown away, like wow, this is really cool. Being out in SEC country and people know who you are all the way out there. 

RSB: Thanks again for coming to spend the week with us and glad you took advantage of the opportunity.
Eddie Vanderdoes: Thank you very much.