Each week we will feature a college football player who is either a member or an officer in a Uplifting Athletes Chapter for our Beyond the Trophy series.
Name: Chris Borland
College: University of Wisconsin
Height, weight, class, position: 5-11, 246 pounds, senior, inside linebacker
High School: Archbishop Alter High School, Kettering, Ohio
About Chris Borland: In his third full season as a starting inside linebacker for the Badgers, the vice president of the Uplifting Athletes chapter was a First Team All-Big Ten selection in 2012. As a junior Borland had 104 tackles, 10.5 tackles for a loss and 4.5 quarterback sacks. He was on almost every preseason watch list or All-American team for this season. By the time he leaves, Madison Borland should reach the 500-tackle plateau. The Ohio native will play his 50th game in a Badgers uniform Saturday when Wisconsin hosts Northwestern.
As a player, what is your favorite part of game day you get to experience at your home stadium?
Borland: My favorite game day experience at Camp Randall has to be Jump Around. I have never seen anything in a football stadium that comes close to the scene that Jump Around creates. I like to watch the opponents look at our student section in awe. Jump Around never gets old.
What is your most memorable experience as a college football player?
Borland: My most memorable experience as a college football player is when we won the inaugural Big Ten championship game in 2011. It was a rematch against MSU, from a game we lost on a Hail Mary earlier in the season. It was an exciting game and there’s something special about playing in and winning the first ever championship game for our conference.
What drove you to get involved with Uplifting Athletes, and what if anything has this experience done for you?
Borland: I was inspired to get involved with Uplifting Athletes after Scott Shirley shared the story of how he and his teammates created the organization. Uplifting Athletes has done so much for me. Most clearly and importantly is has provided a channel for me to help raise funds for a rare disease. More generally this organization has brought me closer to my teammates, a child who is in need of help, and connected me with some tremendous people in our conference. Working with Uplifting Athletes means being part of something bigger than the game.
What is the toughest team you’ve faced or regularly play and what makes them so difficult?
Borland: I would say Ohio State has been our toughest opponent during my career at Wisconsin. We have always played well in our match ups, but they find ways to win. What makes them a good team their big play ability with the athletes they have. They also possess strong depth, especially from the perspective of special teams play.
What is your chosen major, and what if anything have you used from that major as a contribution to your Uplifting Athletes Chapter?
Borland: I am a history Major, and while that doesn’t necessarily translate to the responsibilities of organizing, promoting, and running our chapter here at Wisconsin, I think it gives me a unique perspective. Reading and studying historical documents means I can better understand and decipher the core of texts and ideas. I have a good feel for what we’re trying to accomplish here at Uplifting Athletes.
In your words, what are some of the things you are looking for in life after football?
Borland: I want the same things in life after football as I have found in the game. I don’t know what field I’ll end up in, but I want to be part of a team, be challenged, and have chances to take risks and exercise some creativity.
Besides one of your teammates, name a college football player you enjoy watching?
Borland: I enjoy watching Kain Colter play. He is a good athlete who is used perfectly in Northwestern’s offense. He is savvy and confident. He blends the precision of a polished QB with the flare of a backyard player.
Who is your favorite NFL player and why?
Borland: My favorite NFL player of all time is Brett Favre. He was my idol growing up and the reason I wore No. 4 in high school. I loved his toughness and passion for football. Two of my current favorites are London Fletcher and Troy Polamalu. Fletcher, because he is undersized, from Ohio, and a consummate pro. Polamalu, because he plays like a wild man.
What was or is the inspiration for the Rare Disease your Uplifting Athletes Chapter is raising money for to be part of the fight?
Borland: The inspiration for the rare disease we are fighting here at Wisconsin came from a pre-existing relationship our team had with a young man in the community. We had spent some time with him and his family after learning the big Badgers fan was afflicted by cancer. It wasn’t until late in the process of choosing a disease to fight that we learned his was classified as rare. It all came together and he is now an integral part of our chapter, our team, and our lives.
What is your favorite road stadium to play in and why?
Borland: Memorial Stadium in Lincoln edges out Ohio Stadium for my favorite place to play on the road, although they are both worth mentioning. Ohio Stadium is simply a great environment with its size and energy. I grew up nearby and when we play there I see a lot of faces in the crowd that I know. Memorial Stadium is more special. Nebraska fans live for the Huskers and treat the game with so much respect. I remember getting off the bus in 2012 for a walk-through early Saturday before our night game. Their fans were giving us a round of applause. For a minute I was cynical enough to believe it was sarcastic, but that went away as they continued to cheer. I was blown away, that was a really classy move. They understood you need two teams to play the game, and showed more sportsmanship than I’ve ever seen out of fans. That’s the way it should be done, and thats why I wasn’t surprised to see their support of UCLA in the wake of their players death before they played in Lincoln this year. Memorial Stadium is certainly memorable.