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.
Today we'll continue with No. 25.
25. Darren Andrews, RS Junior Wide Receiver
2015 Statistics: 43 catches for 443 yards and one touchdown
Why He's Important: We've talked a lot about the loss of Thomas Duarte, Jordan Payton, and Devin Fuller from last year's team, and how UCLA is going to replace their production. But it bears mentioning that UCLA actually does return its third-leading receiver from last season in Darren Andrews. In fact, over the last eight games of the season, after Andrews was inserted as the new starting slot receiver, he became the second-leading receiver on the team behind only Payton.
So, it stands to reason that he might very well be slated to be the leading receiver this year. The main reason he's not higher on this list, though, is that we're still not sure what kind of role the slot receiver is going to have in Kennedy Polamalu's offense. Judging by the spring, at least one slot should be on the field most of the time, but under Noel Mazzone, UCLA virtually always had two on the field at the same time, with a traditional slot and then a Y. We're definitely going to see more sets with a tight end and a fullback, which is going to limit the opportunities for a slot receiver to make a huge impact.
Andrews certainly could move outside, though, and, to lend some credence to that idea, he actually started out as an outside receiver during his first year in the program. We didn't see UCLA experiment with him too much outside this spring, but that doesn't mean he won't play there.
As a player, Andrews gives UCLA yet another speed element at receiver (as an aside, remember when we all used to bemoan the lack of speed in UCLA's receiving corps? That's really not an issue anymore. If anything, the issue is a lack of talented size at the outside positions, which is a far cry from literally last year). Kenny Walker, Stephen Johnson, and Theo Howard, combined with Andrews, gives UCLA some pretty fantastic speed at receiver. Andrews is probably the most experienced and reliable of that group, so we can imagine that he'll be counted on to provide a significant presence in the receiving corps all season.
What's Been Said About Him:
"I'm a big fan of Darren Andrews from the standpoint of all that he's overcome. It could have been very easy for him to be discouraged after those devastating knee injuries but he stayed the course, got back and never got discouraged. When he stayed locked in, even though he was injured, I had him do scout reports on players. Every time it was right on and it showed me he wasn't going to give up, he was locked in." -- WR Coach Eric Yarber, November 4, 2015
Most Recent Interview:
Top 30 Most Important Bruins
|Rank||Name||Highest Rank||Lowest Rank|
|25||Darren Andrews||12 (Tracy Pierson)||Unranked (2-way tie)|
|26||Kenny Walker||13 (Blair Angulo)||Unranked (2-way tie)|
|27||Mike Fafaul||11 (Tracy Pierson)||Unranked (3-way tie)|
|28||Josh Woods||23 (Blair Angulo)||Unranked (2-way tie)|
|29||Keisean Lucier-South||14 (Tracy Pierson)||Unranked (3-way tie)|
|30||Nate Meadors||20 (John Evergreen)||Unranked (2-way tie)|