On Monday five finalists were named for the Butkus Award, given out to the best linebacker in college football. One glaring omission from that list is Wisconsin Badgers linebacker Chris Borland.
The five finalists are Anthony Barr (UCLA), Khalil Mack (Buffalo), C.J. Mosley (Alabama), Ryan Shazier (Ohio State) and Shayne Skov (Stanford).
Unfortunately for the senior Borland, missing practically two games will cost him being named a finalist. Borland himself believes that’s why he was omitted from the list, even though he says he’s just as good as those five.
I think I’m as good of player as those guys if not better. But I think that award recognizes your performance throughout the whole season. I missed some time, so I expect that’s why I’m off of it.
Even while missing those two games (three quarters against Illinois and entire game against Iowa due to hamstring injury) Borland still recorded 92 tackles. Only finalist to record more was Shazier from Ohio State. It’s hard to believe that arguably the best linebacker in the country was left off as a finalist, but he was.
Badgers head coach Gary Andersen feels the same way as well. When asked about his thoughts of Borland being left off the list, Andersen had this to say:
I didn’t know he wasn’t. So, you know, it surprises me. Like I said, my opinion, I guess the best linebacker in the country is not going to be on that list.
Not taking anything away from the guys who made the cut, but I find it hard to believe that Borland is playing worse than any of them. In the Badgers game against one of the best teams in the nation Ohio State, Borland had one of his better games of the season recording a total of 16 tackles. In his last three games he has tallied 35 tackles and two sacks and also tied the FBS record for most forced fumbles in a career with 14 on the road against Minnesota.
I’m not saying Borland would have been a lock to win the Butkus award, but you have to give the man credit where credit is due. Yes he missed seven quarters because of injury, but there’s no denying in those other nine games that Borland was playing some of his best football ever. When you turn on the game every Saturday there’s a reason one of the first things the commentator’s mention is how Borland is a player to watch on the defensive side of the ball.
Chris Borland is a game changer and easily mentioned in the same breath as the other top linebackers in the nation. For him to be left of as a finalist for the Butkus Award is a shame, but I have a feeling he’ll be just fine after this year playing on Sundays.