There’s no more caution period for Ohio State middle linebacker Tuf Borland.
Almost six months removed from the surgery that repaired his right Achilles tendon, ruptured during spring practice, he has the green light to play as much as needed Saturday when the No. 4 Buckeyes take on No. 9 Penn State.
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“He’s been on pitch counts (this season), but he’s free to go now,” Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said. “We had him in a somewhat limited role and were really watching him, because a lot of times that Achilles injury, he wouldn’t be back until November.
“But he fits his name. He’s tough as steel. So he’s free to go play and we’re looking for him to play like Tuf.”
Borland is, too, knowing the Buckeyes are about to take on an offense, run by dual-threat quarterback Trace McSorley and powered by running back Miles Sanders and a stout line, that is the highest scoring in the country at 55.5 points per game.
“I feel great,” he said. “We’ve been building over the last several weeks with reps, and the body feels good.”
Though his first name does seem to say it all about his remarkable comeback, there was a lot of patience involved, extra work behind the scenes and psychological hurdles.
“Especially with an injury like that, it takes some time to kind of get your feet underneath you, and kind of get used to playing again,” Borland said. “The confidence is there. So I feel good.”
He and sophomore Baron Browning will likely share time at the spot, including Saturday. Staying fresh against such a potent offense could be vital. The Nittany Lions like to shove Sanders into the fray, especially between the tackles.
“He looks great on tape,” Borland said. “Good player. I think he was highly ranked coming out of high school, I don’t know, but pretty impressive.”
The same goes for the Penn State offense overall, he said.
“Great offense, very talented team,” Borland said. “We’ll have our work cut out for us. But we’ll be up for the challenge.”