By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
From the sidelines, it’s hard not to be impressed watching EKU redshirt freshman Devin Borders fly high into the air and block a kick.
But, in slow motion, it looks like some sort of optical illusion.
“It’s freaky. When you watch it on tape and you pause it,” EKU coach Dean Hood said. “The (block) against Robert Morris, he jumped and you thought, ‘OK, that’s it.’ Then it was like he stepped on something and he elevated again. It was freaky. It was like the (Michael) Jordan shot over (Craig) Elo. He just kept elevating.”
Borders, a 6-foot-5 wide receiver, has made a big-time impact on special teams and also offense in his first season of action with the Colonels.
The Fort Walton Beach, Fla., native has already blocked three kicks. Border got his hands on two field goals attempts last week in a loss to Eastern Illinois and also batted down an extra point attempt in the season-opening victory over Robert Morris.
“We have a great system,” Borders said. “I have a 38-inch vertical and that helps with my long arms and everything. They get a good push up front and I’m just there to take up some space.”
When he is in full flight, Borders is an imposing presence.
Borders typically lines up behind EKU’s defensive front and comes flying in to the middle of the line at the snap. The redshirt freshman can easily soar over both teams’ linemen and is usually able to get a clean look at the ball.
Borders was used on field goal/extra point situations in high school, but shockingly never had a block, only tipping the ball a couple of times.
“He’s done a good job,” Hood said. “Coach (Jake) Johnson did a good job working up a scheme for him to use his skill set. And that is his skill set. He is long. He can get vertical and he does a good job of taking coaching and listening to what he’s been told.”
After sitting out a redshirt season, Borders blocked a kick in his first college game.
On Saturday against Eastern Illinois, he was one of the few bright spots for the Colonels in a 42-7 loss.
The freshman actually mis-timed his jump a bit on the Panthers’ first field goal attempt, but was still able to get the ball. The kick hit Borders in the forearm just above his right elbow after he had reached the top of his jump.
“Hopefully we can get some more the rest of the season,” Borders said.
With Borders’ size and athleticism, Hood has no doubt that redshirt freshman will continue to be a menace to opposing team’s kickers for years to come.
“He wants to be an all-around really good football player,” Hood said. “It’s important to him. He’s special.”
Borders has also been an big-time performer for the EKU offense so far this season. He has a team-best 20 catches for 276 yards and a team-best four touchdowns.
The redshirt freshman had nine catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns against Morehead State and also had TD receptions against Coastal Carolina and Louisville.
“It’s learning process,” Borders said. “The games are just like practice. I’m just going out there and doing my part.”