When Tuf Borland went down with an Achilles tendon injury this spring, the Buckeyes lost their only established starting linebacker.
Even as a redshirt freshman last season, Borland proved a calming influence for the Buckeye defense when he stepped in at middle linebacker. He started nine games in 2017, including the final five games of the year where OSU allowed just 13 points per game, with three of those games being against opponents ranked in the Top 15.
In his first extensive action last season, Borland led the team with 12 tackles against Army in week three. From there, he remained a key cog in the Ohio State defense and finished fourth on the team with 58 tackles.
The injury could have been devastating for the Buckeyes, but Urban Meyer always had confidence that Borland would be back in time for the season.
“Tuf Borland, that just breaks your heart because he’s one of the best kids I’ve ever been around in my life,” Meyer said at the time of the injury. “He’s a very good player. He’ll be back.”
The day Meyer first announced the news, he didn’t really put a timetable on the recovery time, only that Borland was a tough cookie when it comes to recovery and pain threshold. In fact, at the time, he compared Borland to former quarterback J.T. Barrett in that regard.
Meyer did the same on Tuesday while speaking at Big Ten Media Days.
“Tuf Borland is doing great,” he said. “He’s got the same pain threshold as J.T. Barrett. J.T. Barrett, when the doctors told me after our rivalry game it’s going to be several weeks, I kind of laughed as I walked out of the room and said: ‘That means he’ll be five days.’ Same with Tuf Borland.”
The normal prognosis for such an injury would have had Borland ready to begin playing around September, which means he may not have been up to speed until October some time.
Despite the normal recovery time, what Meyer has seen from Borland to this point has him feeling good about his linebacker’s return.
“Well, it’s a really tough injury,” Meyer said. “I’m looking at Tuf, smiling, he winks at me. He’s on course to perform this fall.”
Meyer also added that because of Borland’s ability to process mental reps throughout his recovery, once he is fully cleared, he will be ready to play.