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Proven captain Tuf Borland leading in offseason for Buckeyes

Tuf Borland-Ohio State-Ohio State football-Buckeyes
Ohio State captain linebacker Tuf Borland is a key leader during the offseason weight programs. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

Proven captain Tuf Borland leading in offseason for Buckeyes

COLUMBUS — Tuf Borland is ready to lead the Ohio State defense — again.

The linebacker who will likely play his senior season as a three-time captain for the Buckeyes has been as consistent as anyone over the last three seasons. And he isn’t even close to finished. Already with three Big Ten titles to his name, he still has a national title to chase.

And that starts in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center weight room on days throughout January and February. So far, his senior year has started off well, and he’s already offering reminders of why he’s been a captain twice already.

“You need that guy. You just need him,” Ohio State strength coach Mickey Marotti said during his Wednesday press conference. “He’s one of the most dependable guys I’ve ever been around in my 30 years.”

Marotti has seen it all. He has coached at Notre Dame. He helped Urban Meyer win two national titles at Florida and one at Ohio State. He knows leadership inside the weight room and outside when he sees it.

So when he talks about the leadership role Borland takes within the strength program, it carries weight. The Buckeyes are losing five captains from a season ago. Only Borland and defensive end Jonathon Cooper return. Borland’s presence is necessary for what Ohio State plans to do this offseason. And he’ll be a huge part of the defensive plans next season, despite all the criticism that has been thrown his way over the last two seasons.

“I mean, that kid is a warrior,” Ohio State linebackers coach Al Washington said earlier this season. “He gets to the ball … and when people [criticize him], I feel like they’re not living in our world. But you know what? It’s all good. We talk about it every day. The criticism and the compliments? It’s about what you think. If you look in the mirror, you know if you’re putting in the work. We don’t pay it any mind. And I like that he’s soft-spoken, because his actions speak louder anyway.”

Tuf Borland-Ohio State-Ohio State football-Buckeyes

Ohio State linebacker Tuf Borland has proven his value as a leader for the Buckeyes. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

As loud as Borland’s actions on the field speak, his weight-room work ethic screams. An aspiring strength and condition coach himself, Borland has dedicated himself to always getting bigger and stronger during the offseason.

Marotti has taken notice.

“When it’s easy, it’s great. When it starts getting hard and getting into that week five, six, seven when you’re really grinding, you need leadership like [Borland],” Marotti said. “The younger players know they have somebody to lean on. Somebody to look back and say hey, how do you get through this? What should I do? He’s the epitome of what a collegiate athlete is in terms of preparation and training.”

With 122 tackles in his last two seasons, Borland has already proven everything he needs to on the field. He was honorable mention All-Big Ten last season. He commands the defense and relays the plays across the board for the Silver Bullets.

And he’s proven even more in the strength program. That might be a tougher place to earn respect and trust of players and coaches. It took time, and it didn’t happen overnight. Borland wasn’t a leader naturally when he showed up to Ohio State. But next year, he certainly will be. His process from being a quiet character in a crowded locker room to one of the best leaders Marotti has seen in his time as a coach has been fluid. And it’s been huge for the Buckeyes.

“It was a progression,” Marotti said. “It wasn’t natural. Being a leader is hard.”

Tuf Borland has made it look pretty easy, especially in the weight room.

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Meatchicken SuxallinosuJeffVicvodLawrence Martin Recent comment authors
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“Borland has dedicated himself to always getting bigger and stronger during the offseason.”

I wish he would work on faster too

allinosu
allinosu

What are you watching? Not once this season did he miss something because of the lack of speed. Did he get beat from time to time” Yes, but so did every member of the defense yet some like to single him out. Did you not read what are LB coach just said as well as BIG coaches whom watch film to scheme us who voted him honorable mention.

Meatchicken Sux
Meatchicken Sux

What have you been watching? Borland sucks and will never play at the next level.

guest
guest

If you have not recognized that Tuff Borland is slow then the real question isn’t what anyone is watching it is what are you smoking?

It is possible to increase speed, take Mike Weber for example, he increased his speed significantly during his time at tOSU.

If Tuf Borland can make himself faster he will be better, but maybe his injury has prevented him from being able to increase his speed

Mohican
Mohican

He has the smarts he just needs the speed. He lost a step due to his injury so hopefully he can get it back this offseason. He is not a pass coverage guy.

allinosu
allinosu

Where was he too slow? The only LB I seen running after anyone was Browning after two slow QBs(Coan and Lawrence). If he is so slow then he wouldn’t be playing period instead of being graded champion 11 times by people who are paid to know instead of coach potato wanna be coaches who think they know more than they do. You are one of the ones Washington is talking about above along with meatchicken.

Jeff
Jeff

Browning is faster but took some wrong angles. Borland is slow and even Ray Charles can see that. Hopefully, they all improve though.

allinosu
allinosu

Wrong angles? More excuses. He was directly behind Lawrence and failed to close the distance. The fleety fast footed superspeedy Coan faked him out of his shoes twice. Give me one example this year of Borland’s speed costing us without generalizing. Washington is right, a bunch of idiots.

Jeff
Jeff

There were plenty of examples were Tuf missed – he is not fast. He ain’t getting drafted bc he isn’t that good. Is Browning exponentially better, no. But he is faster on the field, and that is not a high bar. They both need to improve. Idiots? I’m not sure washington’s quote is necessary to bring up but sure, go ahead and call people idiots through generalizations which you apparently don’t like when it’s against your position. It’s not a good look for anyone.

allinosu
allinosu

I thought so. When ever these haters are ask for real examples they generalize. I went over every game after wards just to watch him because of all the criticism. I knew you wouldn’t have example because they were not there any more than anyone else. Not once did he get burned because of speed. Give me one example and I will go look at it. Perry was on 11 warriors calling you guys crazy, The OSU players on here and reporters call you guys crazy, Our coaches think you’re nuts as well as coaches around the conference who voted him on the all BIG team. But the experts on the couches know better and never miss a chance to cut this buckeye down. Proud I’m sure.

Jeff
Jeff

Trace Mcsorely from 2 yrs ago scrambled for 25+yards bc Tuf ain’t fast and made the wrong read – that was glaring. There are more from this year though. Tuf has shortcomings, as does everyone.

Gabriel Wells
Gabriel Wells

As you said, 2 years ago. That was a while ago, and a result of bad scheme and coaching. This season? Much improved.

allinosu
allinosu

That was the season before. He was still recovering from a bad injury and playing in a bad scheme.Hell I can give you a lot more of him and others that year looking quite inept that year. You can’t find one this season so you deflect. Like I said earlier everyone gets beat from time to time but he is the whipping boy to most everything wrong.Not once this year did any lack of speed on his part cost us THIS past year. It’s time to take off the hate glasses and see what the ones that are paid see.

Jeff
Jeff

Not once this year? If he were faster against Clemson, maybe he’s in a better position to pick off a pass in the first halfl. Also, watch the B10championship game – first drive – he takes a OLineman head on and there is a gaping hole. Is he perfect, no and everyone will miss a play or two or three. I sincerely hope Tuf improves and is an asset for us. I would just prefer to see other options on the field.

allinosu
allinosu

Number one it isn’t the lack of speed why he isn’t picking off passes. He has an area to cover in the zone. QBs try to throw to the gaps. He had an INT as well as knock downs while others don’t.Second of all it is Borland’s job to take on the o-lineman in the hole and peel off which he does quite well.That’s why he starts over Browning because Browning leaves his gap which can result in very good plays or a big gain in his gap.There isn’t a LB in the country at some time or another has been blocked. The problem with some fans and they hear something from someone else and they get stuck thinking they know. You are not alone. When I tried to pin down certain plays or games others also deflect and generalize because there is nothing to point out. It’s easy just to say someone is bad with nothing to back it up. Like I said I’d rather take the word of those in the know than ones that think they know only.

Jeff
Jeff

Not sure if you know this but most restaurants serve brewed decaf these days.

allinosu
allinosu

I don’t drink coffee. Jeff you gave perfect example of bias of Borland above when talking about the missed INT. His drop was quick and fast correct read. He read the QBs eyes and got a good jump on the ball that was out of reach. It was a good effort but like you many had the first thought negative towards him and in your minds another LB would have got it instead of a great play to knock it away. It was just like his INT where his reaction was outstanding considering how fast the deflection came and low but the thought was how slow he looked running afterward. Would it surprise you that the olineman running after him already had a head of steam up and was a converted TE with 4.7 speed. The young man can’t win for losing no mater what he does.

Jeff
Jeff

we’ll just have to agree to disagree. I love his leadership and hope he has a better year but think there are better options as it’s frustrating to watch him play sometimes.

allinosu
allinosu

It’ll be hard for anyone to have a better year than 11 out of 14 games graded champion and BIG honorable mention unless bias is your goal. I really don’t get frustrating watching him play. I have every game on tape and have watched him specifically because of the bias against him and outside the normal times a player gets beat I don’t see it. What I did see over and over where plays designed for a certain gap and him filling it forcing the play wide where someone else was able to clean up. That’s the definition of doing your job and team play while some saw just the tackler making the play. Out of all our LBs he makes the least mistakes. Even Harrison gets beat from time to time and makes more mistakes. I’m guessing because he does his job quietly and not the amount of big plays is why. He’s always around the ball, covers his zone well in pass coverage and doesn’t get beat to the sideline yet some are so tuned in to negative they see what they want. I can call you on your opinion because the facts are in my corner as… Read more »

Meatchicken Sux
Meatchicken Sux

Oh well, only 1 year left of the nightmare that was Borland and Werner.

Jack Chester
Jack Chester

It really amazes me how bad the LB recruiting has been. OSU used to be known for putting out great LB’s, not so much anymore.

RoadApples
RoadApples

Agree, there hasn’t been a thumper in some time.

Gabriel Wells
Gabriel Wells

We have been really successful at recruiting linebackers:
2020:
Cody Simon: no.5 ILB
Kourt Williams: no.11 OLB
2019:
Cade Stover: no.9 OLB (moved to DE)
2018:
Teradja Mitchell: no.2 ILB
K’vaughn Pope: no.9 ILB
Jovontae Jean-Baptiste: no. 19 OLB
2017:
Baron Browning: no.1 OLB
Pete Werner: no.14 ILB
And I believe their struggles last year were the result of a bad scheme and bad coaching. They improved tremendously from last season, but you cannot expect a complete turnaround in 9 months. I believe they will all improve loads again, including the younger guys, who Iḿ excited for, and have a pretty good season next year.

Lawrence Martin
Lawrence Martin

I’ll take Tuf Borland over any other linebacker currently in college football

Jeff
Jeff

Good luck with that

Meatchicken Sux
Meatchicken Sux

Says every one of his assigned blockers.

Vicvod
Vicvod

I sure learned a lot reading all the expert advice on linebacker play this morning. I sure trust you guys a lot more than that coach Marotti and coach Washington. I vote to make Beat Your Meatchicken linebacker coach.

Meatchicken Sux
Meatchicken Sux

I am tanned, rested and ready!

allinosu
allinosu

You forgot. ‘ and stupid’.

Meatchicken Sux
Meatchicken Sux

That’s nice

Spencer Holbrook

Spencer Holbrook covers Ohio State football and basketball for Lettermen Row. A recent graduate of Ohio University's Scripps School of Journalism, he's in his first year covering the Buckeyes. He was previously the sports editor at Ohio's student newspaper, The Post, where he covered Ohio University football and men's basketball.

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