Dec. 23, 2010
MADISON, Wis. -- Chris Borland has become very good at catching a football from a variety of different angles, including backhanded with one arm tied behind his back. Or so it seems. What does this say about Borland? He’s very skilled for a UW linebacker? Or, he’s had a lot of time on his hands since sustaining a season-ending injury?
“I play a lot of catch,” he said, grinning.
Josh Oglesby has become very good at being patient. Not that the UW offensive tackle has had a choice. Since missing most of his senior year of high school with a knee injury, Oglesby has been dealing with setbacks that have knocked him out of the lineup. Overall, he’s had four surgeries, two on each knee.
“It’s never something you want to get used to,” he said, grimacing.
At the beginning of the 2010 season, Borland and Oglesby were both expected to play lead roles on defense and offense, respectively. Borland was projected as a first-team All-Big Ten selection by a number of magazines after earning league freshman of the year honors in 2009. Oglesby was a fixture at right tackle.
“What hurt the most,” Oglesby said, “was being a contributor at one point and then having your ability to contribute taken away on one play.”
“I don’t know if I’ve adjusted yet (to not playing),” Borland said. “Obviously, I know I’m out. But I don’t ever feel like I’m not playing football.”
Borland is scheduled to have arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder this week in Madison. In early October, he had “major” surgery on his left shoulder. “This is more of a straight-forward surgery, a tune-up,” Borland said. “I don’t know if I’d even have it done if I wasn’t already sitting out.”
Borland sat out spring practice after having surgery on his left shoulder. He reinjured the shoulder in the season opener at UNLV. After missing the San Jose State game, he played against Arizona State and was injured again. That’s when he was shut down for the year with the hope of gaining a medical redshirt.
“Knowing what to expect makes it a lot easier – knowing your limitations as well as knowing what you can or can’t do,” Borland said of the rehab process. “What some people don’t realize is that it’s a pretty substantial time commitment from well over an hour to two hours a day and it’s not the most exciting stuff.”
Borland singled out UW trainer Mike Moll for his attention to detail and one-on-one treatments. “All my coaches and teammates have been supportive,” Borland added. “It’s refreshing to see that they treat you the same way when you’re not playing as when you’re playing. That says a lot about the program.”
What has been the toughest part for Borland? “Losing at Michigan State,” he said. “I wasn’t traveling with the team so I was in my living room watching that game knowing that I was out for the rest of the season. That was pretty tough. It has gotten a lot easier since then with the success that we’ve had.”
Borland has not been able to avoid the inevitable questions, especially now that the Badgers are preparing for their trip to the Rose Bowl. “A lot of people come up and say, ‘Chris, do you wish you were out there,’” he noted. “Like I said, I’m just glad we’re winning. It would have been tougher if we were losing a lot.”
Borland is not expected to take part in spring drills. “It’s not likely,” he confirmed. “But maybe towards the end of the spring, I can do some individual stuff. It’s a long time (until next fall). But I will be hungrier.”
There has been speculation that Borland could move to middle linebacker – taking over for departing senior Culmer St. Jean. For now, everything is on hold due to the impending departure of his position coach, Dave Doeren, the UW defensive coordinator, who has accepted the Northern Illinois job.
“They can’t run away from you if you’re in the middle,” Borland said, anticipating a potential switch inside. “It would be exciting and a fun thing.”
The hyper-active Borland has no trouble getting excited. “I always like to be doing something – it’s against my nature to sit back,” he conceded.
That has made it all the more difficult at times for Borland to watch his teammates prepare for TCU. “I still feel like I’m a part of the team,” he said. “I’m still in the locker room, and I’m still watching film. And I’m really thrilled for the guys and the team; the Rose Bowl is going to be a great experience.”
“Personally, it feels like something is missing,” he said.
He was just being honest.
Oglesby can relate.
“It has always been one of my dreams to play in the Rose Bowl,” he said.
Has that made it more difficult?
“I don’t know if it’s difficult, but I couldn’t be more happy and excited for the guys and the program as a whole,” Oglesby said. “I’m just disappointed that I can’t play in the Rose Bowl because it’s one of the biggest stages you can play on.
“The opportunity to come back and play next season – hopefully repeating (as Big Ten champs) and maybe even going on to higher things – is always in the back of your mind and the main motivation for staying in the training room and staying in the weight room. Makes you want to get back as fast as you can.”
Borland is a sophomore from Kettering, Ohio.
Oglesby is a junior from Milwaukee.
Neither is playing.
Neither has felt left out, either.
“That’s what so great about this team,” Oglesby said of the 2010 Badgers. “We are truly a family. Some places talk about having a real family environment. But this place is all about family and I feel as much as part of it as anyone.”