Jan. 28, 2010
With National Signing Day coming up on Wednesday, Feb. 3, UWBadgers.com is reflecting on last season’s Signing Day, focusing specifically on five true freshmen that made an impact on the field during the 2009 season. Today is the second of the five-part series and features linebacker Chris Borland. To see part one, featuring Travis Frederick, please click here.
MADISON, Wis. -- For Kettering, Ohio, native Chris Borland, National Signing Day was a fairly quiet event. There were no large press conferences or live telecasts documenting which school he would sign with. In fact, just a small portion of his day at Archbishop Alter High School was centered on his signing with Wisconsin. Regardless of the lack of fanfare, it was still an important day for the player that would go on to be the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year.
“It was really exciting,” Borland said. “I was at a religious retreat for my high school, and I came back for a few hours to have a little party in front of some of our school and some of my classmates. My whole family was there; it was a nice little gathering. Other than that, I did a few interviews and celebrated, but other than that it was back to the ordinary. It was a really special day, though.”
The signing capped off a recruiting experience that saw Borland sign with his top choice. Still, he did go through some ups and downs during the process.
“The recruiting process was frustrating for me because I had a lot of schools overlook me because I’m small and I hadn’t had any film on linebacker,” he said. “When I came to camp at Wisconsin, they offered and I accepted afterward because it was my number one choice.
“I’m sure like a lot of guys here, my recruiting process was a lot more low-key with not as much publicity, but it worked out and I’m really glad it did.”
While many players talk about the speed of the game changing between high school and college, Borland cited another element that is very different between the two levels.
“I think a lot of people assume that it’s the practice itself that’s the biggest difference, but I think it’s everything outside of football, especially the amount of time and commitment you put in and the playbook,” he explained. “There’s more stress on your body. You have to take better care of your body than you did in high school. Of course the game is faster the guys are bigger, but I think the biggest change from high school is everything outside of the game itself that contributes to the game.”
In talking with the coaching staff before the season, Borland was told he likely would not be redshirting. As a result, he altered his expectations for what the season would bring, but even those got changed as the season progressed.
“I was expecting to just be a number two, possibly at both outside linebackers, or at middle linebacker and one outside linebacker, or even all three positions, but I was expecting to be a number two,” he said. “I thought I would play special teams and in our 3-4 package. That’s how it was going, it was going as I expected, but then unfortunately when Mike [Taylor] went down, I stepped in and started."
The defense didn't miss a beat when Borland took over. He finished the year with 54 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, five sacks three passes defended and one interception. In addition, he had a team-leading five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
He was recognized as honorable mention All-Big Ten by the coaches and media and was named first-team Freshman All-American by both the Sporting News and Phil Steele. Borland was also named a FWAA Freshman All-American and Wisconsin’s Rookie of the Year.
“I got what I expected at first and then, from unfortunate circumstances, became the starter," Borland said. "That’s just how it goes and Mike will be back. I didn’t expect to have the success this year that I did, but I welcome it of course.”
UW Athletic Communications