Thursday, January 30, 2014
Big Ten postseason player rankings: No. 6
By Adam Rittenberg
We're in the home stretch, folks. The postseason player countdown has reached its final two days (and six names). As a reminder, these rankings are based solely on performance during the 2013 season, not on future NFL potential. Up next is a player who gained respect from everyone he encountered during an exceptional career at Wisconsin.
Despite missing time due to injuries, Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland topped 100 tackles for the third-straight season.
Making the case for Borland: He ended his exceptional career just like he started it, with a flurry of big plays and a collection of major awards. The 2009 Big Ten freshman of the year was named 2013 Big Ten defensive player of the year, and earned first-team All-America honors from the Football Writers Association of America.
Borland capped an incredibly productive career with 112 tackles, including 73 solo stops this season, despite missing time with a hamstring injury. He recorded two forced fumbles to set the Big Ten record with 15 for this career and added two fumble recoveries, 4.5 sacks and eight tackles for loss. Borland had seven double-digit tackle performances, matching his career high with 16 against Ohio State. He eclipsed 100 tackles in each of his final three seasons and finished with 420 career stops.
We'll probably take some heat for having Borland behind both Ohio State's Ryan Shazier and Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard, but it speaks more to what those two players accomplished than what Borland didn't do. He led Wisconsin's defense and adjusted seamlessly to a new coaching staff.
"He's such a great preparer," Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen said, "and his care factor is as good as anybody that I've ever been around."
Wisconsin might be known for running backs and offensive linemen, but Badgers fans won't forget what Borland accomplished in Madison. Neither will we.