Last December there was a surprising buzz that ran through the Kentucky football fanbase, Pro wrestler Sting was touring the UK football facilities. Nobody knew why. Personal friend of Mark Stoops? Somehow connected to UK and looking to become a booster? After some digging, it turned out that the Wildcat coaches were recruiting Sting’s son, JUCO TE Steve Borden Jr. Neal Brown had wanted to sign Borden at Texas Tech and on JUCO Signing Day he would have been a big story if not for the surprise pickup of star Za’Darius Smith.
Because he signed in December, Borden was able to enroll early and go through spring practice with the team. Reports from practice were favorable. Seemingly every day, Borden was singled out for making plays, hustling, or being one of the most athletic players on the team. When Performance Coach Erik Korem installed GPS in the players’ pads, it was found that Borden practiced as fast as any player on the roster. At the only open practice of the spring Borden lined up as a tight end, split out wide and in the backfield as a blocker. He was obviously a talented athlete that the coaches planned on using in a variety of ways.
Then came the Blue/White Game. Fifty-thousand fans packed Commonwealth Stadium to see the new-look Wildcats take the field. The offense was new, the defense was new but the roster was the same. The only new players were Reese Phillips, Smith and Borden. Smith absolutely dominated the game despite being unable to touch the quarterback. Phillips displayed surprising skills late in the game, albeit against reserves. But he still played admirably for a guy who should be going to prom instead of reading an SEC defense.
Then you have Borden, who did not record a statistic during the game despite the tight ends being heavily involved. Fans wanted to know what happened to the “Son of Sting”, did he even play? Yes he played, he played quite a bit actually. He even got open a few times, but the quarterbacks didn’t get him the ball. Upon reviewing the game film, he blocked pretty well during the game and sometimes struggled to get separation.
But one scrimmage in the Spring does not condemn a player. I was at the media practice and saw Borden make plays against the same defense. He will be an asset this Fall . He probably won’t start at tight end, it seems like no matter who Kentucky brings in, Tyler Robinson outplays them. But Borden is too versatile not to see the field. And just like fans shouldn’t be calling for Phillips to start this year based on the Spring Game, neither should they think Borden is anything less than advertised. It’s going to be a long Summer without football folks but let’s not get carried away with the speculation.
Sting came to tailgate: