Ohio State’s 2016 recruiting class – the country’s fourth-ranked class – featured 25 signees from 11 states and many of those players are expected to contribute to the Buckeyes on-field success early in their careers.
Join Landof10.com as we introduce you to the next wave of Buckeyes in our Young Bucks series, focusing on outside linebacker Tuf Borland today.
Who is Tuf Borland?
Although he’s not related to former Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland, Tuf Borland is the son of another Wisconsin star — linebacker Kyle Borland, who played for the Badgers in the early 1980s.
This connection led many to consider Wisconsin as the favorite to land the commitment of the Illinois prep star. Instead, Borland committed to Ohio State on April 17, 2015, the day before the spring game.
So what changed? For starters, Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen left the Badgers for Oregon State after a 59-0 loss to the Buckeyes in the 2014 Big Ten Championship. That move opened up the race for other teams, and the Buckeyes were more than happy to step in. Borland visited Ohio State for Junior Day in January 2015, and a lengthy meeting with defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell certainly helped the Buckeyes’ cause.
“It was more about just going in there and having the time to spend him them and getting to know him a little better,” Borland said. “It was about more than football with him. You go a lot of these places and it’s all football, football, football, but he’s taking the time to get to know all his players on a more personal level. He expects more out of them just from a personal standpoint, improving them as a person and not just as a football player.”
- Height: 6-foot-1
- Weight: 228
- Number: 32
- Hometown: Bolingbrook, Ill.
- High School: Bolingbrook
- Composite Ranking: 21 (Outside linebacker)
- High School Highlights
Borland ended up enrolling early at Ohio State, securing his place in the class when he signed his financial aid agreement Aug. 14, 2015.
— Urban Meyer (@OSUCoachMeyer) August 14, 2015
He took part in spring practice and played in the spring game, recording a pass breakup in a 28-17 win for the Gray team.
What does he bring to Ohio State?
In a word… toughness. Borland had his share of 15-20 tackle games in high school, and he’s been described as an old school player. Time and time again, Borland demonstrated a knack for being able to anticipate plays and then find his way to the ballcarrier once he figured out where he needed to be.
The work ethic is certainly there to complement his football ability, as his high school coach John Ivlow could attest when he found Borland trying to sneak into the stadium for a 6:30 a.m. workout one day.
“I was out making some rounds in the school area, and I was sitting up there in the path that leads to the practice field, and here’s Tuf trying to get into the stadium to go do a workout,” Ivlow told the Chicago Tribune. “I’m like, ‘Geez, what the heck is this?’ His dad was there. I know the kid also likes to work out in the afternoon, so he’s doing his own double session or triple session. We were off, and we don’t get together until Monday, yet there is Tuf out there early in the morning.”
Will he play as a freshman?
He’s certainly up against it on the depth chart. In addition to the projected starting trio of Chris Worley, Raekwon McMillan and Dante Booker, Borland also enters with an experience deficit compared to Justin Hilliard and Nick Conner, not to mention former walk-ons Joe Burger and Craig Fada. Given the sheer amount of names on that list, it does seem unlikely as of fall camp that he’ll beat out enough of those prospects to earn some defensive snaps.
There’s always a chance he could contribute on special teams given his skill set, however, and that shouldn’t be ruled out.