There are some "name" programs in Arizona with which you have undoubtedly become familiar during the last several years of Stanford and West Coast football recruiting wars. Several Phoenix area schools roll off your tongue as regular producers of Division I talent, and a few Tucson programs show up from year to year. But a program unknown to all but a few very close observers of Cactus State gridiron action is Ironwood Ridge High School in the Northwest part of Tucson.
Populations are changing in Arizona, with rising numbers and evolving demographics. That is pushing more D-I kids out of these desert programs each year, and it is no coincidence that Stanford has landed two signees in each of their past two recruiting classes. This year, their attention is squarely focused on Ironwood Ridge, a program that just concluded its second year of varsity football and first year with senior players. The school is less than three years old, opening its doors for its first classes in the 2001-2002 school year to help handle the overcrowding at nearby Canyon Del Oro HS. That year was also the first year of football at the new school, with the Nighthawks fielding freshman and junior varsity squads.
Daniel Borg was a freshman in that first year, and then in the 2002 season the sophomore started both ways as an offensive lineman and defensive tackle for the varsity squad. Ironwood Ridge was just 5-5 in their debut year of varsity football, despite no seniors on the roster, and then in 2003 they surged to the state playoffs with an 8-3 record.
Just as the Nighthawks have experienced rapid and somewhat surprising success in their infant stages, so too has Borg enjoyed immediate success. He was named First Team All-Tucson as an offensive lineman his junior year and Second Team All-State.
"He is extremely dedicated and gifted athletically," says Ironwood Ridge head coach Gary Minor. "He has a real mean streak. Daniel is just a tough, physical player and we are very fortunate to have someone like him."
In addition to his physical gifts, Borg is an attractive recruit for his early aptitude at pass blocking. While most high school gridders excel at drive blocking in run-oriented schemes, Ironwood Ridge runs a spread offense that takes many tenets from the Texas Tech offense. That experience plus his basketball and track work have developed great footwork and technique in pass protection out at right tackle.
"I could play a little more aggressively," the 6'6" 285-pound Tucson tackle says of his improvement to come this next year. "You can always improve your strength."
Borg currently benches 300 and squats 430 pounds. Last year as a sophomore, he placed ninth in the state in the discus with a personal best throw of 139-6, and he was 17th in Arizona in the shot with a best of 48-5. To round out his athletic profile, his basketball team enjoyed a 25-3 season that just concluded with an upset loss in the first round of the state playoffs.
Stanford got a head start in their evaluation and recruitment of Borg when he camped at Stanford last summer as an underclassman, and he made an impact on the coaches. At first glance, it was assumed that this big-bodied lineman was a rising senior, but he really turned heads when people realized that he was a 2005 prospect.
"I don't want to put words in anybody's mouth," the junior recruit begins. "But from what Stanford told my head coach, it sounded like I was one of the bigger tackle performers at the entire camp."
His Cardinal ties continue back at home, with an older sister Lindsay who is a current freshman at The Farm. That connection in fact will bring Borg out later this week to visit unofficially with his parents. They arrive Thursday and leave Sunday morning for Parents Weekend at Stanford to visit Lindsay.
"I'm really looking forward to talking with the Stanford coaches and maybe the Cal coaches if that works out," Borg states.
He also reports that offensive line coach Steve Morton was in town a few weeks ago during the last evaluation days before Signing Day and talked with his head coach. He is also experiencing heavy recruitment from Washington, California, UCLA, Nebraska and Arizona.
"Stanford has probably been recruiting me the hardest, so maybe they have a little advantage," Borg offers for his current recruiting preferences. "But I'm very open right now."
One school you always have to watch closely for a Tucson product like this one is of course the UofA. However, their recent problems and current coaching transition leaves him with some questions.
"I'm definitely a UofA basketball fan but not as much for football," he allows. "But I'll be watching to see what Coach [Mike] Stoops does with the program this fall."
Borg currently sports a 4.1 GPA on a five-point scale and scored an 1180 on his SAT in January.
Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our website, as well as our full-length feature articles in our glossy magazine. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up) and The Bootleg Magazine (sign-up)!