INDIANAPOLIS — When Max Borghi walks into a team’s interview setup here at the NFL Combine, you don’t have to be in the room to know what the team coaches and scouts are thinking.
Well, if this ain’t the second coming of Christian McCaffrey.
Both Borghi and McCaffrey are running backs from Colorado high school state championship teams. Both were Denver Post Gold Helmet winners as the best football players in the state – McCaffrey for Valor Christian High School in 2013; Borghi for Pomona High School in 2017.
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Both went on to play for Pac-12 schools. Both are running backs known for their receiving skills more than their running ability – although they are both fine inside-outside rushers.
“Yeah, I do have a relationship with him,’’ Borghi said Thursday of McCaffrey during his NFL Combine media session. “I’ve reached out multiple times throughout my career. He’s kind of been in my corner. He’s kind of been a role model of mine growing up. He’s a tremendous athlete and a tremendous person.
“Both being from Colorado, both being running backs, it’s kind of fun just following him. It’s just been someone I’ve always reached out to if I have a question or concern or anything because he’s been through it all.”
True, McCaffrey was far more accomplished and highly rated coming out of Stanford, as he wound up as the No. 8 overall draft selection by Carolina in the 2017 draft, while Borghi is coming out of Washington State with expectations of going in the second, third or fourth rounds of the upcoming draft.
To be sure, there is only one Christian McCaffrey. But while McCaffrey rushed for an otherworldly 2,019 yards as a sophomore at Stanford and 1,603 yards as a junior while also returning kickoffs and punts, he never had 86 catches in a college season (he did exceed 105 catches twice in the NFL), as Borghi did his sophomore year under Mike Leach.
“My receptions and my hands and my versatility is definitely going to attract teams,’’ said Borghi, who is listed as 5-foot-9, 207 pounds. “You see the way the NFL is changing and the way they’re using running backs now you’ve got to be able to catch the ball. It’s not just running the rock, you’ve got to catch the ball and be able to make guys miss in space. I think playing under Mike Leach helped me out a lot.’’
After Leach moved on and Nick Rolovich became Washington State’s head coach, Borghi rushed for 880 yards this past season when he bounced back from a back injury.
“I caught a lot more passes under Leach,’’ Borghi said. “Under Rolovich, I didn’t catch as many passes but I ran the ball a little bit more. Obviously, Leach isn’t known for running the ball that much. You’ve got to be crazy to play running back for Leach (laughs). Hey, I enjoyed it, I did well.
“Yeah, people question (my ability to run the ball). I think it’s a blessing. I’m a great receiving back. Showing I can do that has been nothing but helping me.”
At Pomona, Borghi helped lead his school to three consecutive state championship games. After losing to Valor and quarterback Dylan McCaffrey, Christian’s younger brother, as a sophomore and junior, Borghi rushed for 247 yards and three touchdowns in his senior state title game to defeat Eaglecrest in a thriller, 56-49.
“Pomona and coach Jay Madden, they both shaped me into the person I am now,’’ Borghi said. “Had a great opportunity there. I was fortunate to play with a great team. Won a couple state championships. It was a blessing there. It really kick started my career. Got me the opportunity to earn some scholarships and get my name out there to go prove myself even more. So I’m really grateful for Pomona High School and coach Madden.’’
Besides McCaffrey, Borghi said he models his game after another Colorado-raised running back turned NFL star – Austin Ekeler of the Los Angeles Chargers, who hails from Eaton. Here at the Combine, Borghi is joined by Colorado-raised prospected Trey McBride of Colorado State and Fort Morgan, and Chad Muma of Wyoming and Lone Tree.
“All of us Colorado guys, Chad, Trey McBride we all know each other,’’ Borghi said. “We’re all kind of the ballers of our class back in the day. It’s cool to see each other, see where we came (from) and all meeting back here, it’s pretty special. He’s a terrific player, Trey’s a terrific player and I’m excited to see where they go.”
Borghi sprained an ankle during the Senior Bowl game last month and won’t be able to participate in the Combine events here this week.
“It definitely sucks but it is what it is,’’ he said. “I can only control the controllables. Focusing on my Pro Day. Getting as healthy as I can for Pro Day (March 29). I’m going to go out to Pro Day and kill it. I’m confident in myself, doing everything I can. It sucks, but it happens. I’ve dreamt of this moment, dreamt of coming here and showing exactly what I can do on the big stage but the scouts will get the times and scouts will get their information on me and everything happens for a reason, so I’ll be all right.”
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