With under 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. 11.
11. Ishmael Adams, RS Senior Wide Receiver/Kick Returner/Defensive Back
2015 Statistics: Defense: 35 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions; Punt Returns: 2 for 109 yards and a touchdown; Kick Returns: 7 for 140 yards
Why He's Important: Ishmael Adams looked like an absolute natural at wide receiver this spring. Anyone who watched him on kick and punt returns, especially as a sophomore, understood that he had the vision to make moves in the open field, but you still would have thought he'd take some time to look comfortable at receiver, especially since he hasn't played really any receiver in college. This spring was eye-opening, though, as Adams looked like one of the most natural playmakers on the entire offense, with the explosive speed and vision to become a dynamic threat with the ball in his hands.
The question is really how much versatility he will have on offense. He's certainly built like a slot receiver, but as we talked about in the Darren Andrews section, it's uncertain how much UCLA will use its slot receivers this year. After all, the offense is clearly trying to emphasize fullbacks and tight ends more. So the question is if Adams has the ability to play on the outside when he's going to be giving up a couple of inches to most cornerbacks he faces. If he can, and we saw moments when he did just that this spring, his value at receiver should go up considerably.
Then, on special teams, Adams figures to be the starting kick returner and punt returner, and we think he's going to be much more similar to his 2014 level at both of those spots. Last year, he looked like he was just a little too beaten up and was pressing a little too much to make something happen every time he touched the ball. He'll probably play fewer snaps on offense this year than he did on defense last year, so we imagine he'll be fresher for returns. So, he should be plenty valuable there as well.
And then, in a pinch, he knows the defense and can absolutely fill in at nickel or corner if need be. We don't imagine he'll do that regularly, but if there are injuries, he's a nice insurance policy to have.
Thanks to his overall versatility as well as his ability to be a dynamic playmaker, Adams has the potential to end up even higher on this list by season's end.
What's Been Said About Him:
"I’m very pleased with Ish. He brings that defensive mentality to the offensive side of the ball, athletic arrogance. He refuses to lose. I love what I see from Ish. I asked him if he wants to break up passes or strike up the band, and he said ‘strike up the band, coach.'" -- WR Coach Eric Yarber, April 12, 2016
Most Recent Interview:
30 Most Important Bruins for 2016
|Rank||Name||Highest Rank||Lowest Rank|
|11||Ishmael Adams||8 (Dave Woods)||22 (John Evergreen)|
|12||Eli Ankou||10 (2-way tie)||21 (Dave Woods)|
|13||Isaako Savaiinaea||11 (John Evergreen)||27 (Dave Woods)|
|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)|