With one month 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. 14.
14. Eldridge Massington, RS Junior Wide Receiver
2015 Statistics: 11 catches for 119 yards (2014 stats: 25 catches for 367 yards)
Why He's Important: Probably one of the strangest story-lines of the 2015 season was the drastic drop off in production for Eldridge Massington. A year after looking like the obvious heir apparent to Jordan Payton as that big, physical, productive outside receiver, Massington struggled to produce much of anything on the field in 2015. Guys like Kenny Walker and Darren Andrews were targeted much more often than Massington, who seemed to struggle to get open much of the year.
One of the issues was probably the change in quarterback. Brett Hundley and Massington grew very close in their short time together at UCLA, which probably aided their on-field rapport. Rosen, meanwhile, seemed to develop a much easier connection with Payton and Thomas Duarte, and as the season went along, he seemed to lock onto those guys as well, since they were very obviously the two most reliable pass-catchers on the team. So that explains some of it. Even still, Massington didn't look like the same guy as the year before. While we've never bought him having tremendous football speed, he looked faster in 2014 than he did in 2015.
This spring was an interesting one for Massington. Through the first two weeks or so, he looked kind of the way he did all of last year -- struggling to get open, and just not finding a real connection with Rosen. Then, over the last two weeks, it was as if the light came on. He started making very tough catches and looking much more tenacious fighting for the ball. He even looked a little more explosive, and Rosen rewarded him by targeting him much more often than in the first couple of weeks. His size makes him a really intriguing receiver, because he has the height to win jump balls while also having the bulk to be a Payton-level blocker on the outside.
If Massington can be the player this season that he was over the last two weeks of spring, UCLA can answer one of the remaining questions left from spring -- who will be the bigger receiver on the outside? For once, UCLA has a lot of smaller, quicker, faster options, but the Bruins don't necessarily have that reliable guy who can make the tough catches to move the sticks. Massington has the talent and ability to be that guy, and if he can continue to build that connection with Rosen that we saw glimpses of in the final two weeks of spring, he could become one of the key cogs of the offense.
What's Been Said About Him:
"I think Eldridge is turning it on. He was thinking all the time and trying to be perfect all the time. Then he turned loose and he's not thinking as much. He's using his athletic ability right now." -- WR Coach Eric Yarber, August 8, 2014
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30 Most Important Bruins for 2016
|Rank||Name||Highest Rank||Lowest Rank|
|14||Eldridge Massington||8 (Blair Angulo)||26 (Tracy Pierson)|
|15||J.J. Molson||9 (Blair Angulo)||21 (2-way tie)|
|16||Nate Starks||14 (Dave Woods)||22 (Blair Angulo)|
|17||Jaleel Wadood||6 (John Evergreen)||30 (Tracy Pierson)|
|18||Kenny Young||13 (Tracy Pierson)||Unranked (Blair Angulo)|
|19||Theo Howard||14 (John Evergreen)||24 (2-way tie)|
|20||Matt Dickerson||15 (John Evergreen)||29 (Tracy Pierson)|
|21||Randall Goforth||12 (John Evergreen)||29 (Blair Angulo)|
|22||Austin Kent||17 (Blair Angulo)||30 (John Evergreen)|
|23||Bolu Olorunfunmi||13 (Dave Woods)||Unranked (Blair Angulo)|
|24||Deon Hollins||15 (Tracy Pierson)||Unranked (Dave Woods)|
|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)|