Jayden Borders isn’t the biggest wide receiver around.
He doesn’t tower over defensive backs. He isn’t bursting out of his jersey. Of all the receivers Shelby High brought to Cam Newton’s 7-on-7 High School Football Tournament on Saturday at Providence Day, Borders was one of the least physically imposing.
“Everyone wants the big, Kelvin Benjamin-looking receivers,” Shelby coach Lance Ware said, “but (Jayden) is productive. He gets in the end zone.”
Last season, Borders snagged 93 passes for 1,732 yards. He made it into the end zone 26 times, and at season’s end his team had won its third consecutive 2A state championship.
“I think I’ve got the full package,” said Borders, a 5-foot-11, 170-pound rising senior. “Not just physically, but mentally I don’t take myself apart from the game.
His production speaks for itself, but major-college programs haven’t come hard after Borders.
Despite summer visits to Virginia Tech and South Carolina, he is looking primarily at schools closer to home. He said Appalachian State and East Carolina are the two schools recruiting him the hardest and that he’s learning toward ECU.
“He’s under-recruited,” Ware said.
But none of that mattered Saturday because Saturday was strictly about football.
And as he did for Shelby last season, Borders came up big.
He caught three touchdown passes in a two-game stretch, shouldering the scoring load for the Golden Lions. He weaved through defenders with ease, breaking and cutting and, of course, catching touchdowns.
And he didn’t allow an opponent’s jawing bother him.
“Defenders try to get in your head, but I let the talent talk,” Borders said.
On one play late in Shelby’s second game Saturday, Borders lined up on the left side of the field. The player across from him, while muffled, was clearly talking at Borders.
Borders responded, cutting inside and then back outwards. His defender couldn’t keep up. Touchdown Shelby.
“It’s pretty good,” Borders said of the play, “because you know you’ve got the leverage on that defender and so he really can’t talk anymore.”
The trick now will be continuing the frenetic scoring pace Borders established last season.
And, as he’s proven, he can play bigger than he is.
▪ Shelby lost its first game Saturday against York, but then rolled off two wins before falling again to South Mecklenburg right as the clock expired. Shelby was at the goal line with time winding down but couldn’t get a play off before time expired .
▪ Borders had three touchdown catches in Shelby’s two wins.
▪ Sun Valley won the tournament and the $2,500 first place prize.