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Steven Borden: Kentucky's rising son

Former SCCS player, son of wrestler "Sting," trying to carve out his own legacy

Posted: August 10, 2014 10:37 p.m.
Updated: August 10, 2014 10:37 p.m.

Kentucky tight end and former Santa Clarita Christian player Steven Borden, left, scores a touchdown against Alabama State during Kentucky's 48-14 win on Nov. 2 in Lexington, Ky. Photo courtesy of UK Athletics

 

When Steven Borden first signed his letter of intent for the University of Kentucky football team in December 2012, he wasn’t rated by any major recruiting websites.

The former Santa Clarita Christian player was merely an under-the-radar junior college prospect. The most intriguing fact about him, as most media outlets reported, was that he was the son of longtime professional wrestler “Sting.”

It’s not something that bothers Borden, but it’s something he thinks about when it comes to his lofty aspirations for his football career.

“I have an extremely good relationship with my dad. I look up to him at every level, especially what he did professionally, but he always says, ‘I want you to go on and be successful — even more successful than me,’” Borden says.

That won’t be easy considering what successful heights “Sting” — a.k.a. Steve Borden — reached.

Sting, who is a Hart High graduate, has enjoyed a highly decorated wrestling career for nearly 30 combined years. He most famously won multiple world championships while with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and he recently started making appearances in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) events.

But since he was 8 years old, Borden Jr. has had his sights set on playing professional football. Wrestling was never something his dad pushed him toward.

“Even since I was very young, he’s tried to push me away from wrestling,” Borden Jr. says. “He didn’t have to try very hard. I never sat there and said I want to be a wrestler.”

One of Borden Jr.’s first memories of learning the basics of football was when he signed up for a camp hosted by current Hart football head coach Mike Herrington.

He played youth football for the Santa Clarita Valley Warriors and eventually became the quarterback of SCCS’ 8-man football team alongside record-breaking running back Collin Keoshian.

Borden and Keoshian anchored SCCS’ CIF-Southern Section Division I 8-man championship win in 2008 when both were juniors.

After his family moved to Texas, Borden switched to defensive end his senior year of high school ball at Waxahachie High School near Dallas.

But a player with mostly 8-man experience in high school isn’t typically a sought-after recruit when it comes to big college football teams.

So Borden Jr. went where he could go, and he played a year at Southwestern Assemblies of God University, an NAIA school in Waxahachie.

He accumulated 35 tackles and 3.5 sacks as a defensive end that year, in 2010.

With the intention of trying to gain more attention from bigger four-year schools, he then moved to nearby Kilgore College, a junior college where he stepped into the tight end position for the first time.

Following a redshirt season, Borden caught 11 passes for 181 yards and four touchdowns for Kilgore in 2012.

Throughout his football career, the 6-foot, 3-inch, 246-pounder has cycled through different positions. That versatility, in addition to his size, speed and overall potential made him attractive to recruiters despite the fact that he wasn’t putting up huge statistical numbers.

“Borden is a very, very explosive athlete,” says Kentucky tight ends coach Vince Marrow, who played 12 years in the NFL. “He can run very strong. A kid that he hasn’t played that much football, but you see kind of why he has talent to play at the next level as a fullback, H-back.”

And after taking a long and difficult path to the highest levels of NCAA Division I football, this season appears to be a major opportunity for Borden.

Last year at Kentucky, he caught just three passes for 63 yards and a touchdown. But with the graduation of three senior tight ends following that season, Borden moves to the top of the depth chart where he’ll compete with Ronnie Shields for the starting job.

And Borden Jr. says he’s considerably more prepared for the task now than he was this time last year.

“I had these massive aspirations of coming in and getting 50 or 60 touches my first year,” he recalls. “And I kind of got hit in the face when I first got here just in terms of how much I had to learn.”

But Borden Jr. is the type to plug away at something until he gets is right. He’ll do anything to reach his football goals.

That’s something he does get from his dad — the refusal to give up.

Turns out the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree after all.

“He has a chance,” Marrow says of Borden Jr. “He’s got everything you’d want in an (NFL player). He just needs to put it all together.”

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