MADISON – For Chris Borland it’s never been about the awards. The University of Wisconsin linebacker has repeatedly said this year that it would be nice to win some individual trophies but that he didn’t really care. That was the stance he took after being left off the finalist list of the Butkus Award, which goes to the best linebacker in the country. And it’s likely the way he will treat any snub from those that vote on postseason awards. Still, he believes he’s as good as any defensive player in the country and he got some evidence to back that claim on Monday. That’s when the senior was named the Fitzgerald-Butkus Linebacker of the Year in the Big Ten, while also being one of two unanimous picks for the all-conference team by the media and the coaches.
The Ohio-native beat out Ryan Shazier from Ohio State and Michigan State’s Max Bullough for the award, with both guys joining him on the first-team. He’s the first Badgers’ linebacker to win the award, which is only in its third year.
Borland is also a finalist for the Lott IMPACT Trophy, which goes to the best defensive player in the country that also makes a contribution off the field. And he won the Big Ten’s Sportsmanship Award for 2013.
Though he missed seven quarters of action with a hamstring injury, Borland finished third in the conference with an average of 9.3 tackles per game and his 102 total tackles was tied for fifth.
In his career Borland has 410 total tackles, which ranks sixth all-time in program history.
Meanwhile, the voters left no doubt that the Badgers have the best 1-2 running back tandem in the Big Ten and possibly the country.
Senior James White and sophomore Melvin Gordon were named second-team All-Big Ten picks by the coaches and media.
Gordon led the team, and was third in the conference, in rushing with 1,466 yards, while White came on strong at the end of the year and had a career-best 1,337 yards, good for fourth in the Big Ten.
Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde and Nebraska’s Ammer Abdullah were consensus first-team picks, with Hyde being named the Dayne-Ameche Running Back of the Year in the conference.
The running backs weren’t the only Badgers on offense to gain recognition. Jared Abbrederis, who played quarterback in high school and came to Wisconsin as a walk-on, leaves five years later as an All-Big Ten wide receiver.
The senior was named first-team all-conference by the coaches and the media. He became the first Wisconsin wide receiver since Lee Evans in 2003 to be a consensus first-team pick. And his 1,051 yards marked the first time since 2005 that the Badgers had a 1,000-yard receiver and just the fourth time in school history.
What made Abbrederis’ 73 catches and seven touchdowns more impressive was that the defense knew the ball was coming his way – and he still got open. He had 36 more catches than the next closest receiver (James White, 37 catches) for the Badgers.
Penn State’s Allen Robinson beat out Abbrederis for the Richter-Howard Wide Receiver of the Year.
Along the offensive line, guard Ryan Groy was named to the coaches’ first-team, while the Middleton-native and right tackle Rob Havenstein garnered second-team honors from the media.
The Big Ten will announce the offensive and defensive players of the year, along with the coach and freshmen of the year tomorrow.
In total, 14 Badgers were named All-Big in some form:
2013 All-Big Ten Teams
WR Jared Abbrederis – First team (consensus)
OL Ryan Groy – First team (coaches), second team (media)
RB Melvin Gordon – Second team (consensus)
RB James White – Second team (consensus)
OL Rob Havenstein – Second team (media), honorable mention (coaches)
OL Tyler Marz – Honorable mention (consensus)
TE Jacob Pedersen – Honorable mention (consensus)
QB Joel Stave – Honorable mention (media)
LB Chris Borland – First team (consensus)
NG Beau Allen – Honorable mention (consensus)
DE Pat Muldoon – Honorable mention (consensus)
S Dezmen Southward – Honorable mention (consensus)
S Michael Caputo – Honorable mention (media)
CB Sojourn Shelton – Honorable mention (media)
for the full list of the All-Big Ten teams along with the individual position winners.