With two months to go until the start of fall camp, we're going to count down our 30 most important UCLA players for the 2016 season. These are the players we think are going to have the most significant impact for UCLA this year, so don't take this to mean that these are the players we think are the best long-term prospects, or even necessarily the most talented. Every BRO staffer has ranked his top 30 UCLA players, and from that we've drawn an aggregate list.
We'll start today with No. 30.
30. Nate Meadors, Sophomore Cornerback
2015 Statistics: 22 tackles, one interception, three passes defended
Why He's Important: Meadors came out of essentially nowhere last season to play significant time at cornerback in the latter half of the year, due to a variety of injuries to the starting secondary. What was surprising was that, despite starting out the year at safety and being a true freshman, Meadors acclimated more or less naturally to the position switch, and actually looked like one of UCLA's better cornerbacks by the end of the season.
This spring, Meadors was at corner for basically every practice, and was with the first string for the vast majority of the time. Now, some of that was due to the absence of Marcus Rios and Fabian Moreau, among others, for long periods of camp, but a large part of it is that Meadors has shown the ability to play meaningful snaps at corner in the Pac-12. He has the sort of natural instincts that you expect to see in a fourth-year player, not one heading into his sophomore season. He's not the flashiest athlete in the world, but his instincts more than make up for that.
There's a chance he starts this year, but even if he doesn't, he has a very good chance of being the first corner off the bench. With the uncertain status of Johnny Johnson and other cornerbacks, it's vital that UCLA has a first-off-the-bench cornerback they trust can play. He might even work in as a nickel depending on how things shake out there. Given that he has experience learning safety in this defense, we wouldn't be stunned if he took snaps at that position as well. His versatility makes him a huge asset in the secondary, as it's easy to see him fitting in at any of the five main positions.
What's Been Said About Him:
"That says a lot about his gumption." -- Jim Mora, 11/01/15, after Meadors made a game-saving interception against Colorado last year.
"But I think it comes down to Nate having confidence in himself and preparing the way he's prepared. He's got a little swagger to him, he doesn't play on his heels." -- Jim Mora, 12/22/15, on Meadors switching to corner from safety as a true freshman.
Most Recent Interview (prior to freshman season):
Top 30 Most Important Bruins:
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