Makai Borden to Follow in Father's BYU Footsteps?

The son of a former Hawaiian BYU gridiron standout is raising eyebrows and turning a lot of heads as a top recruiting prospect from Washington State.

Makai Borden is a 6-1, 190-pound versatile LDS running back/cornerback who excels in football and basketball like his father, Randy. Borden plays his senior season this fall at Puyallup High School, the same tradition-rich football powerhouse that sent standout recruits Jacob McKinney and Loren Langley to Washington State last year.

As a junior, Borden accounted for 1,014 on 154 carries, 15 catches for 337 yards, scored 16 touchdowns and was named a Second Team All-SPSL League player. However, his athleticism and versatility was highlighted when he was also named to the league's First Team Defensive unit. His defensive stats included 59 tackles, 43 solo, one interception, four fumble recoveries and one sack

Borden and two Puyallup teammates strutted and showed their stuff at the Lake Washington Air Attack Camp on May 22 alongside about 100 skill players from Washington and Oregon.

Chris Fetters, Northwest Recruiting Analyst, noted in his complete camp report: "In the dozen or so Air Attack camps I've seen in the past few years, this camp probably was the best ever in terms of raw talent … A group from Puyallup stood out among the best. Adam Grant, Wyatt Ellis and Makai Borden all showed just why they are being actively recruited by Div. 1 schools."

"Borden might be the best of the bunch, showing off his lightning-quick feet and sure hands. Plenty of Div. 1 schools have expressed interest. The 6-1, 190-pound Borden is capable of playing a number of positions for the Vikings this fall and he showed why Saturday; Makai has dependable hands, a quick first step and great balance. This allows him to make difficult catches in bounds without losing a step."

Borden is quick to credit his father, who played football for several seasons at BYU in the 70s before he was injured, for his natural athleticism. "He was an amazing athlete back in Hawaii. He was an All-American for basketball and football, and was being recruited by colleges as a baseball pitcher. He was just an all-around solid athlete. I'm just trying not to mess his name up," Borden joked. He added his father "played there (BYU) for a couple of years then shattered his wrist long boarding. He came back to Hawaii and finished school at BYU-Hawaii."

Looking ahead to college, Borden acknowledged that "I would probably prefer being on the defense side, but I love being a receiver also. I went to Air Attack, a receiver and quarterback camp, and it really helped me. It sure helped me as a running back as well. I love both. I love hitting on the defensive side and I love those tough catches and making people say, ‘How did he catch that ball?' I also love hearing people say, ‘Man, he can lock up receivers too.' "

Meanwhile, Borden said, "I'll probably play running back and probably play a little bit of receiver this year. I don't know what BYU or those other colleges are recruiting me for, but I'll probably be a receiver."

Borden said he is receiving recruiting attention from Oregon, Washington, Arizona State, BYU, Washington State, UCLA, Oregon State, Idaho and Montana. "I want to send my information to UH (Hawaii) to see if maybe I could go back there and play football where my family grew up," Borden said.

Despite the increasing attention, he admitted one school, in particular, stood out for personal reasons. "I've been thinking hard about it lately, but probably the best decision for me would most likely be BYU because that's where both my mom and dad went. They both loved it there. They want me around that kind of environment and think it would be really good for me."

"But, you know, it is my decision ultimately, but I do listen to their input because they know what's best for me also. I haven't been (to BYU), but my mom was there a while ago and even then she said it was an amazing place."

He said he also liked the fact there are more Polynesian athletes on the Cougar football team (aside from Hawaii) than any other program.

"That's what I love about BYU. That's a good thing to have all these (Polynesians) playing right in front of me," said Borden. "Then, on top of all that, to have them all be LDS and be great kids. That just makes the school even better if you are LDS," he said.

Meanwhile, Borden plans to attend summer camps being at Oregon, Washington State and Washington. "Last year, I went to the NIKE combine in Oregon and stayed for the day camp the next day. I'll be doing the same thing. This year, the Wazzoo (Washington State) camp overlaps with Washington and the Oregon and NIKE camps is right in the middle of both of them. I'm only going to be able to go to two days of the Wazzoo camp, two days of Washington and then go to the NIKE and Oregon camps. It's going to be pretty crazy," he continued.

Ruminating on his ideal playing weight and speed, Borden added, "I'm not quite there yet. I know I can perform at around 190 and maybe even at 185, but I feel I need to be at around 200 to 205 with that added muscle for the extra pop when hitting people," he said. "I run a 4.5/40 now. I've never really paid much attention to anything but my forty times. You can always add more weight, but you can't always add more speed. That's why I'm starting to pay more attention to my forty speed."

College coaches have taken particular notice of Borden's ability to "shut down" opposing players on defense. Coaches from Washington, Washington State and BYU have made attempts to reach Borden during the early recruiting period.

"UW (Washington) called and I talked to Coach Hart. I talked to the Wazzoo coach and he's excited I'm coming out to their camp. They're a full-hitting camp and we're going to do a lot of scrimmaging there. They're excited to see what I can bring, see if I can lay the hat and if I have any speed. We'll see. I think I got a call from the BYU coaches, but I live with my brother and my mom just lives down the street so I think they called her place and I missed the call," said Borden.

His early take on the recruiting process that is just beginning to heat up for him? "I've been getting calls and stuff and its getting crazy. I knew I was going to play football because I love it so much, but I never knew about the process, the calls, the visits and stuff. I'm loving it. At the same time, I know how fatigued I'm going to be when it comes time to make a decision. It will be a good step for me and maybe a big step leaving home and going away. This will be a good thing for me," said Borden.

With high school football practice already underway, Borden is excited about the potential of his team under new head coach, coach Tony Ingles, who is bringing an option aerial attack similar to that introduced by BYU's Gary Crowton in 2000 with Brandon Doman and Luke Staley leading the way. Ingles previously won the Washington state prep championship coaching at Kentwood High.

Invariably, the question most active LDS member athletes are asked is whether they have any future LDS mission plans? Borden was refreshingly frank and honest in his response: "Well, it's still up in the air. If I went on a mission then decided to come back and play, I don't think it would work out for me in a positive way. I think I need to get to college and, with the shape my body is in now, get that done. Then, I can still serve a mission later when I'm older. That is kind of what I'm leaning towards now. I just think that might be best for me now but we'll see. I mean, I could be catching passes from Ben Olson," Borden chuckled.

All the football talk aside, Borden is as passionate about basketball as he is about football. "I'm hopefully going to be one of the captains on our basketball team. I'm kind of like the Ron Artest of the team that is big on defense and hustle. I may not score a lot of points, but I'll get you those stops when you need them. I'm definitely a two-way athlete and I take a lot pride in my defense and hustling," Borden concluded.

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