RICHMOND — With more than 1,000 career yards, Devin Borders qualifies as a darn good receiver.
What makes the Eastern Kentucky University redshirt sophomore stand out even more, though, is his uncanny ability to block kicks.
Last year, when he was named Freshman of the Year in the Ohio Valley Conference, he led the nation with five blocks.
Now, as EKU prepares to host Indiana State in Saturday's first-round FCS playoff game, Borders again leads the nation with five blocks — two punts and three field-goal attempts.
Borders showed a talent for blocking kicks even when he was at Choctawhatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
"We did the same system actually. It's just bigger people, I guess, and I'm jumping higher than I was in high school," Borders said. "So it's just a very effective system we have going on."
Colonels Coach Dean Hood scoffs when he hears that Borders attributes his blocking prowess to a system.
"He's just being nice," Hood said. "There is no system if he's not 6-5 and have a vertical of whatever he has, and that he times it up, and he trusts his guys in front of him to give him some space, and that he'll go ahead and actually jump up knowing that that thing's coming at whatever-miles-per-hour, and also one of those 'O' linemen are fixing to try to cut his legs out from under him. So it's him."
At 6-foot-5, 220 pounds, Borders has a 38½ -inch vertical leap. He has long arms to match his athletic build. That's about as far as he'll go in describing any innate ability to block kicks, though.
Then, he'll add: "I get a great push from Avery Pitt and Bryce Krebs up front, so they're really the main part of it. Up front."
Hood loves the attitude.
"What he does best is put team above self," Hood said. "It's amazing. ... To have a wide receiver say 'Hey, Coach, I'll do that; I'll jump up and hit a ball at who-knows-what miles per hour off of a kicker's foot. I'll do that for my team. I make my living right here with my hands, but I'll go ahead and stick my hand up there and try to block that kick and try to block that punt.'
"That's the thing I appreciate the most about Devin, is, 'Coach, whatever you need me to do for this football team, that's what I'll do.' Not only that, he's pretty dad-gone good at playing wide-out."
As a freshman, Borders led the Colonels in receptions (34), receiving yards (509) and touchdowns catches (six).
"I'm a go-up-and-get-it type of guy," said Borders, who this season has caught 36 balls for 501 yards and five touchdowns. That ranks just behind Jeff Glover's 39 grabs and 672 yards. Glover has three TDs.
Borders and Glover, who stands 6-4, simplify things for EKU's quarterbacks.
"You get a big, long guy (and) you throw it anywhere near that kid and he can make the catch," Hood said. "Our quarterbacks really like that and they have a lot of confidence in that. That's why if you watch us play, you see guys that sometimes a lot of it is just throwing it up. Yeah, he is just throwing it up. Because he's got Glover and Borders to go up and get it with that length. And if they're attacking the football, that's pretty tough to defend."
■ EKU will be making its 21st appearance in the FCS playoffs, second only to Montana's 23.
■ The Colonels are aiming for their first playoff victory since 1994.
■ Indiana State is in the playoffs for the first time since 1984.
■ EKU leads the all-time series 6-1 over the Sycamores. This is the first time the schools have met in the playoffs.
■ Borders on making the playoffs: "It's huge for us, the whole program. All year, we've been kind of trying to knock off milestones of this year, that year — 5-and-0 starts and all that stuff. But to make the playoffs is a big thing for us. Especially last year, we went 6-and-6 and were out. It's just huge for us, and we're ready to show everybody what we're made of."