With just over a week 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 finish with No. 1.
1. Josh Rosen, Sophomore Quarterback
2015 Statistics: 292 of 487 (60%), 7.53 yards per attempt, 23 touchdowns, 11 interceptions, 37 rushes for 16 yards
Why He's Important: We've finally arrived at No. 1 in our countdown, and, while it would have been fun to have some sort of gotcha pick here, there was really no other major contender. Josh Rosen wasn't our unanimous No. 1, with Eddie Vanderdoes snagging one vote for good reason, but three of us did pick Rosen. It should be obvious why.
First, quarterbacks, even bad ones, always have an elevated level of importance compared to other positions. They just affect way too much of the game for that not to be the case. It just so happens that Rosen is very much not a bad one, and is in fact already one of the top two or three quarterbacks in the Pac-12, and will arguably be one of the better quarterbacks in the country by season's end. Last year, thrust into a starting job as a true freshman, Rosen put up numbers that would be solid for a three-year starter at the college level, throwing twice as many touchdowns as interceptions and generally making very good decisions.
We've talked a lot about Rosen's ability over the last four years, since he was a high school sophomore, but it bears reiterating that his combination of skills is extremely rare at the college level. He has all of the physical tools you could want in a quarterback, with great arm strength, a very good build, and enough athleticism to keep defenses honest. He combines that with advanced understanding of the game on a mental level. In fact, while he's a physical prototype, it's the mental side of the game which truly sets him apart as a player. He's already at the stage mentally where the UCLA staff felt comfortable moving toward an offense where he'll have much greater decision-making power this season. His awareness and headiness for a true freshman last year was particularly impressive.
We're excited to see the leap, though. Last year, he was very, very good -- for a true freshman. There were still a couple of games where he had less than stellar performances, particularly against BYU early in the year and then against USC to close the regular season. If Rosen is truly one of the best quarterback prospects to come through college football in some time, we'd expect a much improved Rosen to step out on the field this year -- and that's a very fun thought.
Second, in determining his level of importance, there's really not much behind him on the depth chart. If he had what Brett Hundley had in, say, 2012, with Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince backing him up, Rosen might have simply been No. 2 or No. 3 on this list. Instead, Rosen has Mike Fafaul, a former walk-on, as his likely primary backup, and three true freshmen filling out the remainder of the depth chart (we'll throw Dymond Lee into that mix for now, since that's where he's listed on UCLA's roster). If Rosen is healthy, this team can absolutely compete for a Pac-12 championship. If Rosen gets hurt, and Fafaul or one of the freshmen has to play considerably, this team could struggle to be bowl eligible.
So, as with the two tackles, keeping Rosen healthy is just about the most important thing for the team this year, as Rosen, in his own right, is the most important Bruin.
What's Been Said About Him:
"His potential is unlimited. He would have been the best QB in the draft this year. There's no question about his ability, only experience and, at this point, maturity. He's special. And he is smart, a leader, and very well respected by his teammates. He works hard and gets it. Just needs to continue to grow and not think he's arrived." -- HC Jim Mora, July 6, 2016
Most Recent Interview:
30 Most Important Bruins for 2016
|Rank||Name||Highest Rank||Lowest Rank|
|1||Josh Rosen||1 (3-way tie)||2 (Blair Angulo)|
|2||Conor McDermott||2 (2-way tie)||5 (John Evergreen)|
|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)|