Who will start at middle linebacker for Ohio State football in 2018?
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Who do you expect to start at MLB for OSU this year?
— Ryan Meeks (@rydog2729) May 8, 2018
The reason that this is likely even a question to begin with is because incumbent Tuf Borland sustained an Achilles injury in March. But unfairness is a part of life sometimes, and Borland’s injury has given junior Justin Hilliard and sophomore Baron Browning a chance to show what they can do in that role.
The biggest detriment at this point to Borland’s continued place as the starter is the simple fact that there’s no timetable for his return. Following spring practice, linebackers coach Bill Davis said Borland could be back at some point in fall camp, but it’s also possible that he will miss multiple games. Because of that, Hilliard and Browning will enter fall camp as the top middle linebackers.
Browning was an outside linebacker before Borland’s injury, so he’s playing a new position, but in my opinion, he’s going to prove too talented to keep off the field. If Borland isn’t fully healthy, I think Browning will get the nod against Oregon State when the season opens Sept. 1. Just look at what Davis said about him a few days after the conclusion of spring practice, which he’d spent playing a new position.
“I would say he took some big steps and I think he had a good spring game,” Davis said. “It was one of his better practices of the year. I think Baron is constantly growing. I’m excited for his skill set along with his growth. As young as he is, there’s so much left to grow and so much left to do. When I think of Baron, I think of how much work I have left with him, how much potential he has. But if he doesn’t reap that potential, that’s on me. I have to make sure I can drive him to do that. I’m very excited to work with him. I think he has a huge upside.”
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