Tuf Borland has the best football name on the Ohio State Buckeyes roster. He just doesn’t hear his name very often in the locker room. His teammates call him anything but Tuf.
“Pretty much whatever they feel like calling me,” Borland said.
The redshirt freshman from Bolingbrook, Ill., doesn’t expect that to change even though he is now a more household name for college football fans. Borland received the first significant playing time of his career Saturday in a 38-7 victory against Army at Ohio Stadium.
Borland led the team with 10½ tackles (nine solo and three assists), including 1½ tackles for a loss. His 12 total stops were the most by a freshman linebacker since Ryan Shazier had 15 against Penn State in 2011.
The Buckeyes limited Army to 113 rushing yards in the second half.
“I think we had great effort,” Borland said. “We swarmed to the ball. That’s what we pride ourselves on. There’s obviously some things we need to improve on. (Army) is very disciplined. You have to be in the right spots all the time. You have to have everyone covered in every situation. I think we did a pretty good job.”
Starting linebacker Chris Worley sprained his ankle in the first half. Borland stepped into his place and helped the defense pitch a shutout the rest of the way. His teammates weren’t surprised to see him excel.
“Anyone who knows Tuf knows he does his job on the field, off the field,” linebacker Jerome Baker said. “He takes care of his body. It’s good seeing him get some playing time.”
Worley remains questionable for the game against UNLV at noon Saturday at Ohio Stadium, coach Urban Meyer said Monday. Meyer, who named Borland the defensive player of the game, said he doesn’t know how Borland will fit into future plans, assuming Worley returns soon, but said he has been an important player as the middle shield on punt and kickoff return units.
“He’s very valuable and a great kid,” Meyer said. “His personality matches his name. He’s a tough guy.”
Borland was a four-star recruit who ranked No. 18 in the country at linebacker in the class of 2016, according to Scout.com. His dad Kyle Borland played linebacker at Wisconsin from 1980-82.
Tuf expected to get more playing time against Army. Worley’s injury thrust him into a larger role, one he had prepared for since arriving on campus in January 2016. He
“I’m just trying to enjoy the moment,” he said. “I’ll be ready if my number’s called. I’m going to keep preparing to help this team win.”
Notes: J.K. Dobbins, who rushed for 172 yards on 13 carries with two touchdowns, was named the Big Ten Co-Freshman of the week. It’s his second award in the first three weeks. … Ohio State announced its Sept. 30 game at Rutgers will start at 7:30 p.m. … Meyer praised Miamisburg grad Josh Myers, a freshman offensive lineman, and others for their performance on the scout team last week.
UNLV at Ohio State, noon, Big Ten Network, 1410