For this Borg, resisting assimilation is not futile - The Explorer: Import

For this Borg, resisting assimilation is not futile

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Posted: Wednesday, November 10, 2004 12:00 am | Updated: 7:49 am, Thu Mar 24, 2011.

Nov. 3, 2004 - Somewhere buried in the mound of letters, brochures and media guides enveloping his dining room table, lies Daniel Borg's future.

"The letters are (still) coming in slowly," said Borg. "They all offer the same thing."

The only thing that dwarfs the stack of requests is Borg himself, a 6-foot-6-inch, 275-pound offensive tackle for Ironwood Ridge's football team. The letters reach the Borg family dining room from all corners of the United States, and true to the senior lineman's word, all propose the same thing, "please come to our university and play football for our team."

A highly sought after recruit, Borg has been attracting offers from major universities since his sophomore year at Ironwood Ridge High School. Although the sheer volume of mail has slowed since he announced his intentions to attend the University of Arizona in the fall of 2005, the letters, ranging from generic information requests to personalized messages from some of the country's most respected college head football coaches, have yet to cease.

"He's the whole package," said Ironwood Ridge head coach Gary Minor of his team leader. "He's big, he's athletic, he's smart and he has a great work ethic."

For Borg, the decision to play for the Wildcats over elite programs such as Notre Dame, Miami and Nebraska came naturally.

"I feel real comfortable around them," said the senior of Mike Stoops and his UA coaching staff. "They were the ones that really got to know who I am more than any other school. They figured out who I was. They had confidence in me."

Other schools, such as Nebraska, were more than interested in Borg, but lacked the personal touch that kept the senior in Tucson.

"The only thing they really offered was 'this is Nebraska. This is the pipeline to the NFL.' You can go to the NFL from anywhere. Look at where Jerry Rice went to the NFL from, Mississippi Valley State."

Unlike many over-zealous, over-confident high school athletes, Borg isn't sizing up his bust for display in the National Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio just yet. Before even dreaming of taking one step onto the fake grass of an NFL stadium, Borg wants to first get his future on solid footing.

The soon-to-be freshman will bring his hulking frame, and 4.0 grade point average, to the classrooms and science buildings of the UA where he intends to study Earth sciences, atmospheric science or geology.

Although Arizona Stadium is the place Borg will call his weekend home in the fall for the next four or five years, interest from virtually every program on the West Coast warranted a whirlwind tour up the coast with pit stops at Stanford, Oregon State and Washington.

Washington was a major contender in landing the Nighthawk's big man. Had Stoops and company not been able to sway the senior, the Huskies could very well have been unveiling their new offensive lineman to the Pacific-10 Conference next August. Stanford missed out on Ironwood Ridge's three-sport athlete even though Borg's sister Lindsay attends the Northern California school.

Instead, Borg opted to climb a new family tree, one closer to his home.

"He has to look forward to coming into a new family," said Ryan Shirley, a former Mountain View High School standout and current red-shirted UA fullback. "That was one thing I really liked about coming here; it wasn't like you had to come out and get into 12 fights to prove yourself. As soon as you decide to join this football team, we want you out here."

Shirley and his Northwest connection with Borg could very well be the senior's weekend guide when the lineman takes an official visit to the UA campus in December. If not, the sophomore Shirley will keep a watchful eye on the freshman.

"I won't leave him out to dry," said the charismatic Shirley, whose teammates have dubbed 'Squirrel.' "He won't dry up around me."

Due to NCAA bylaws, Borg can't officially scrawl his signature on a full football scholarship with Arizona until the Feb. 2 signing date, when all athletes become eligible. Until then, he is only tied to the UA through a verbal commitment, which allows him to continue to check out other schools. Sometime in the upcoming months Borg will accompany teammate and Ironwood Ridge quarterback Ryan Crawford on a recruiting visit to Salt Lake City to tour the University of Utah.

Although the option to go elsewhere still exists, the Army All-American's sights are set on getting his education, both on and off the field, at the UA.

"Based on the number of unofficials (visits) I've been on, I have seen a lot of schools, met a lot of coaches," said Borg. "And the UA is the best place for me."

Between the time he swaps a Nighthawks helmet for a Wildcat "A," Borg will lead Ironwood Ridge on a season-ending state playoff push before taking a much needed break prior to defending his 4A track and field state title in the discus throw. That means the Ironwood boys basketball team will be without one of its big men this winter when Borg takes a break from the non-stop schedule he has kept since his freshman year - a calendar-clogging tour between three sports and numerous summer camps and combines.

While Borg rests, the letters are sure to continue arriving.

And the mound will continue to grow.

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