Sophomore running back John Clay was named consensus Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year while true freshman linebacker Chris Borland earned consensus conference Freshman of the Year honors, the Big Ten announced Monday night.
Clay is the just the third Badger in school history to earn Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year honors, joining running backs Brent Moss (1993) and Ron Dayne (1999). He leads the Big Ten in rushing in all games (111.3 ypg) and paced the league during conference games (121.0 ypg). Clay's 13 touchdowns also lead all Big Ten players as did his 10 TDs in league play.
With one regular-season game left, Clay has rushed for 1,224 yards, good for 14th on UW's single-season list. He has seven 100-yard rushing games this year, including six in conference games.
"It's an honor to be in a category with those guys," said Clay on the Big Ten Network, becoming the first sophomore to win the award since Purdue quarterback Drew Brees won the award in 1998. "It feels good to be in this position. All credit goes to (my offensive line). They've been helping me all year. I am blessed that I got this award."
Borland has made his mark on both defense and special teams while becoming the sixth UW player to earn conference Freshman of the Year honors. Leading the Badgers in tackles during the Big Ten season with 46, despite starting just the last four games, Borland is tied for the conference lead with three fumble recoveries and tied for second in the league with five forced fumbles.
In addition, Borland ranks third on the Badgers with 7.5 tackles for loss and also recorded an interception and punt block during the season.
Borland is the first defensive player to win the award since 2000 and the sixth UW player to earn conference Freshman of the Year honors (Tony Lowery – 1987, Ron Dayne – 1996, Brooks Bollinger – 1999, Anthony Davis – 2001, P.J. Hill – 2006).
"It's a great honor," said Borland. "This conference is full of great players, and great freshmen."
While Clay was the only unanimous first-team selection by the media, he wasn't the only Badger honored. Senior tight end Garrett Graham, left guard John Moffitt and left tackle Gabe Carimi were also selected to the first team by the media. The last time the Badgers had four offensive players named first-team all-conference was in 1999.
Only Clay and Moffitt were selected to the first-team by the coaches, as Graham and Carimi were named to the second team.
O'Brien Schofield, who is tied for third nationally in tackles for loss, was the only UW defensive player selected to the first-team by the media and the coaches, giving UW five first-team All-Big Ten selections for the first time since 2004. The only other defensive player honored was Jay Valai, who was named to the second team by the coaches.
Schofield couldn't pull in more hardware, as Michigan State's Greg Jones, the preseason defensive player of the year, was named the media's defensive player of the year and Penn State defensive lineman Jared Odrick was the coaches' defensive player of the year.
Seven Badgers earned honorable mention All-Big Ten including Valai (media), Borland (media and coaches), senior safety Chris Maragos (media and coaches), sophomore wide receiver Nick Toon (media and coaches), junior quarterback Scott Tolzien (coaches), sophomore punter Brad Nortman (coaches) and sophomore defensive end J.J. Watt (media). Maragos was also recognized as Wisconsin's Big Ten Sportsmanship honoree.