COLUMBUS — Tuf Borland’s critics can officially be hushed.
An occasional lightning rod for his play from some outside of the Ohio State program, Borland was always capable of playing in the NFL. Now he’s headed there, given an opportunity by the Vikings as an undrafted free agent on Saturday.
For whatever he lacked in athleticism, the former Buckeyes linebacker made up for with his innate leadership qualities. He leaves Columbus as only the second three-time captain in Ohio State history. A member of the 2016 recruiting class, many of his classmates left for the NFL while he spent five seasons in Columbus. He made up for a lack of speed with instincts and toughness. Playing at inside linebacker, he was the constant in the position room when Ohio State had turnover in its program.
[Borland] played his tail off,” Ohio State linebackers coach Al Washington said. “He was instrumental to us and our success. Incredibly instrumental. He was one of the anchors. You talk about trust? I mean, I trust him — dare I say it — with my life. Out there on the field, I trust him tremendously. He played well, and he’s also a guy who will tell you there are things to work on, and he’s getting better.
“He’s an adult, he’s very mature — it’s hard to put into words. He meets like a coach, we watch film and he’s like an extension of a coach. It’s very comforting, because he’s also a guy who can lead and show young guys how to conduct their business because he’s been there.”
Borland can now be in the same class of his old teammates. The Vikings have signed Borland as a new addition, bringing on a linebacker to their roster who can be relied on for his leadership and toughness.