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Preseason Scouting Notes: Tuf Borland, LB, Ohio State

Redshirt Senior | 6’1” 234 lbs | Bolingbrook, IL

 

A tough linebacker who has good instincts and leadership skills, but lacks the speed and coverage skills to be an every-down starting linebacker in the NFL

 

Overview:

Tuf Borland came to Ohio State as 4-star recruit. He redshirted his first season and was a special teams contributor his redshirt freshman. He played well in limited action in 2017. During spring ball in 2018 he tore his Achilles, but astoundingly recovered in time to play in Week 1. His toughness was rewarded by being named team captain for the 2018 season, a position he’s held since. He primarily plays as the MIKE linebacker in OSU’s 4-3 defense, but has taken reps at outside linebacker. In 2019 he split reps with Baron Browning and was taken off the field in obvious passing situations.

Strengths:

– Shows good instincts and knows what gap he needs to attack
– Plays under control and rarely over pursues when scraping the front side edge
– Widely considered the leader of the defense. Communicates well and helps other players to get in position
– Has a great motor and can be seen hustling from across the field to help clean up tackles
– Rarely fooled by misdirection plays
– Extremely tough, rugged player

Areas to improve:

– Lacks speed both in sideline to sideline range and in pass coverage
– Often taken off the field in obvious passing situations
– When in coverage, he doesn’t have the quickness to stick to tight ends and running backs
– Has issues tackling runners in open space
– Lacks strength to limit yards after contact as a tackler
– Struggles navigating through linemen in pursuit
– Lacks the strength and quickness to consistently get off blocks
– Lacks high-level production and rarely makes impact plays

Injury concerns:

Tore his Achilles in 2018, but recovered before the season started

Projection:

As of now, Tuf Borland is a fringe prospect. He lacks the speed and pass coverage skills to get consistent playing time at linebacker. He is the type of player who can win a team over with his leadership, toughness, and instincts but lacks the athleticism to do anything more than a special teamer. If he can add play strength and prove himself a bit in pass coverage, he has a chance to be a Day 3 special teams contributor.

What to watch in 2020:

Will he become an every down player in 2020? Now that Malik Harrison has moved on to the NFL, there is room for Tuf Borland to take on more responsibility in pass coverage next to Pete Werner and Baron Browning. If he continues to only be a rotational linebacker, it’s unlikely he’ll be drafted. He would need to improve athletically in order to be anything better than a late round or PFA level prospect. He’ll have plenty of chances to prove himself against top competition such as Michigan, Wisconsin, and Oregon.