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. 3.
3. Eddie Vanderdoes, RS Junior Defensive Tackle
2015 Statistics: 8 tackles, 2 tackles for loss (only played one game before suffering an ACL tear)
Why He's Important: In the Eli Ankou piece, we talked about Ankou being important largely because he was replacing Kenny Clark at nose tackle, and that holds true. But Eddie Vanderdoes answers the more important question for the interior of UCLA's defensive line -- who is going to replace Clark's talent and ability? Though he'll be playing more of a three-technique than a true nose tackle, Vanderdoes' impact this year, assuming he's fully healthy, could be just as big as Clark's, because he is a very talented player in his own right.
Of course, they're a little bit different as players. Vanderdoes, though he doesn't quite have Clark's excellent lateral mobility, is physically stronger, and might be a marginally better run defender. He gives up a little compared to Clark in the leverage department, because Clark was shorter and could probably bend a little better, but his great strength tends to balance things out there. It's going to be interesting to see Vanderdoes now, after the ACL tear. The tear happened almost a year ago now, and judging by his workout videos, Vanderdoes looks very healthy. As we've seen over the years, though, recovering from ACL at this stage more often involves the mental component of learning to trust the knee again. Hopefully, Vanderdoes is able to quickly leap those sorts of hurdles in fall camp.
It's a shame we only caught a glimpse of peak-Vanderdoes paired with peak-Clark for a portion of the Virginia game last year. Vanderdoes finally had a healthy offseason, and he looked great in fall camp and then into the season. Heck, he was arguably better than Clark in that game, and it would have been fun to see those two play side by side all of last year. It's hard to pin run defense issues on a single player, but you can imagine that if UCLA had Clark and Vanderdoes in the middle of the defense all year, the run defense would have been significantly better.
So, hopefully Vanderdoes is fully healthy to start the year, and is able to pick up where he started at the beginning of last year, when he looked like he was finally in great shape and was playing like it.
And, hopefully again, Vanderdoes doesn't decide it's a good idea to lift a 300-pound defensive tackle in the endzone like he's Mufasa.
What's Been Said About Him:
"He'll play the 3-technique. He's about 90 percent. He's still limited what he can do, but we get him in pre-practice. I expect him to be ready in mid-June." -- DL Coach Angus McClure, April 7, 2016
Most Recent Interview:
30 Most Important Bruins for 2016
|Rank||Name||Highest Rank||Lowest Rank|
|3||Eddie Vanderdoes||1 (Blair Angulo)||5 (Dave Woods)|
|4||Scott Quessenberry||4 (Dave Woods)||8 (John Evergreen)|
|5||Jayon Brown||2 (John Evergreen)||15 (Blair Angulo)|
|6||Takkarist McKinley||5 (Blair Angulo)||10 (John Evergreen)|
|7||Kolton Miller||3 (Dave Woods)||20 (Blair Angulo)|
|8||Soso Jamabo||7 (John Evergreen)||18 (Blair Angulo)|
|9||Fabian Moreau||4 (John Evergreen)||22 (Dave Woods)|
|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)|