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. 10.
10. Nate Iese, RS Senior Tight End
2015 Statistics: 11 catches, 96 yards
Why He's Important: You're forgiven if you thought that one of us was somehow related to Nate Iese, given the amount we've talked about him and his lack of usage over the last few years. It remains an enigma for us, that a big, athletic guy like Iese has struggled to find a major role on either offense or defense. He has bounced between linebacker, defensive end, tight end, and fullback in his UCLA career, and while he was effectively the starting fullback last year and the year before, it didn't amount to much since fullbacks were so marginalized in Noel Mazzone's offense.
This year should change things for Iese. He's now a full-time tight end, in an offense that actually seems geared toward featuring tight ends. UCLA is really without too many other options at tight end. Iese was probably the closest thing to a traditional tight end on the roster this spring, and the next closest is Jordan Wilson, the true freshman coming in this fall. Austin Roberts, who also played tight end this spring, is much more of a flex, pass-catching type at tight end. So, Iese will certainly have the opportunity to make an impact.
The question, really, is whether he'll take advantage. He was fine this spring, but we were actually expecting a little more out of him -- it might simply be the case that it takes him a while to get comfortable in the new role. He has improved as a blocker over the last couple of years, but blocking as a tight end is a little bit different than blocking as a fullback, simply because you're more often asked to block linemen, and that will require Iese playing with consistent toughness and physicality. As a pass catcher, he has good hands and the athleticism to make plays, so it's just a matter of getting open and presenting Josh Rosen with a reliable target.
Iese could make a big impact in his senior year, and, most importantly, make us look very good for backing him all these years.
What's Been Said About Him:
"He's played the position or a position as close to tight end as possible, therefore, he's ahead of the curve so he understands the fundamentals and techniques. I expect a lot out of him. This is his last year and he wants to leave a mark and set the bar. We've set the bar together very high for him. He's got the ability." -- TE Coach Rip Scherer, April 6, 2016
Most Recent Interview:
30 Most Important Bruins for 2016
|Rank||Name||Highest Rank||Lowest Rank|
|10||Nate Iese||7 (Blair Angulo)||Unranked (Tracy Pierson)|
|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)|