Former Ohio State Defenders Baron Browning, Justin Hilliard, Tuf Borland and Jonathon Cooper Make Plays in Senior Bowl Win

By Dan Hope on January 30, 2021 at 5:48 pm
Tuf Borland
Vasha Hunt – USA TODAY Sports

Baron Browning, Justin Hilliard, Tuf Borland and Jonathon Cooper won one last game in Ohio State helmets on Saturday.

The four former Ohio State defenders helped lead the National Team to a 27-24 victory in Saturday's Senior Bowl at Hancock-Whitney Stadium in Mobile, Alabama.

Cooper, Borland and Hilliard all started the game for the National Team, but it was Browning who made the first big play among the four Buckeyes. Lined up on the edge of the line on the game's fourth play from scrimmage, Browning easily shed a block by a tight end and blew up a run by Missouri running back Larry Rountree for no gain.

The National Team's second defensive series of the game was the Hilliard show. Hilliard started that series by blowing an Elijah Mitchell run for a 2-yard loss, and finished that series with tight coverage on 4th-and-4 to force an incomplete pass (with another tackle on a 3-yard Kylin Hill run in between).

Browning showed up in a big way again on the National Team's first defensive series of the second quarter, this time playing as an off-ball linebacker, when he exploded downhill to blow up a Rountree run behind the line of scrimmage on 3rd-and-1, ultimately leading to a turnover on downs for the American Team.

Borland put his playmaking ability on display early in the third quarter when he broke in front of a throw by former Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond for a pass breakup about 10 yards downfield. He wasn't able to hang onto what could have been a diving interception, as the ball bounced off his hands, but he also had a tackle for loss later in the series.

Cooper, who had several pressures but did not record any stats in the first three quarters of the game, finally got on the stat sheet on the first play of the fourth quarter when he took down former Wake Forest (and briefly Georgia) quarterback Jamie Newman for a sack and a 5-yard loss.

Cooper helped take down Newman again on the next National defensive series to add another half-sack to his total. Browning got in on another sack of Newman on the very next play, though he was not officially credited with the sack.

Former Ohio State wide receiver Trevon Grimes, who concluded his collegiate career at Florida, got on the board with a touchdown with 49 seconds left to play in the game, but that would be the final score of the game as the National Team kneeled out the clock to secure a three-point win.

Hilliard finished the game with four total tackles and Browning finished with three total tackles. Cooper finished with two total tackles and led the National Team with 1.5 tackles for loss, while Borland finished with two tackles, one tackle for loss and one pass breakup. Grimes finished the game with two catches for 33 yards.

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