CLEMSON – Jeremiah Trotter is turning into one of the nation’s best linebackers, and he’s doing it right in front of our very eyes.
This is Trotter’s first season starting as the MIKE (or middle) linebacker in Clemson’s defense, and all he’s done is record a team-high 83 tackles and team-high 12 tackles for loss. And he’s done some of his best work by him late in the season as hard work and film study have paid off – he recorded a career-high 3.0 sacks and nearly doubled his career-high season sack total to 6.5 in the ACC Championship Game against North Carolina.
Trotter’s third sack set an ACC Championship Game record, surpassing the 2.0 sacks produced by Florida State’s Lawrence Timmons, Georgia Tech’s Jeremiah Attaochu (2012), and Clemson’s Dexter Lawrence (2016). Trotter became the first Clemson player to post at least 2.0 sacks in back-to-back games since Clelin Ferrell in 2018 against Texas A&M and Georgia Southern. Trotter also became the first Clemson player to record 3.0 sacks in a game since Ferrell against Syracuse in 2017 (3.5).
Trotter has now recorded a sack in three consecutive games for the first time in his career.
For Trotter, it’s all about the hustle.
“I feel like film study definitely plays a big part in it, but at the end of the day, being at a linebacker position it really goes down to hustling all across the field, hustle to the ball, run to the ball,” Trotter said. “Because you never know when the opportunity’s going to be like somebody missed a tackle, and then you’re there to clean it up. So, it’s really just something that my dad always tried to teach me, make sure I stay on top of. I try to work on it in practice; it’s just running to the ball, making sure I’m conditioned so I can fly across the field and maybe make plays that a linebacker shouldn’t make.”
And he does it all at 6-foot, 230 pounds.
“I feel like I’m a different type of Mike in this day and age,” Trotter said. “As far as football, I feel like linebackers are starting to get a little bit smaller but quick, and fast and just be able to be versatile across the field, be able to run across the field. I feel like I’m that type of Mike.”
Trotter is the unquestioned quarterback of the defense and is responsible for making the calls on the field, something that he takes pride in doing.
“I’m definitely making a lot of those calls on the field. It definitely makes me take more responsibility in my film work and my study and my preparation to try and make sure I know everybody’s job,” Trotter said. “So, if I’m out there and one of the guys asks a question about what they’re going to do or what they have for that play, I can just look over and tell them what they got to do and we’re all in the same place, we’re ready to go. So I definitely like that responsibility placed on me at the mike position.”
Defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Wes Goodwin puts a lot of trust in Trotter, and the two meet to go over the game plan and ensure they’re on the same page.
“In meetings or just before games, I’ll definitely be talking to him, seeing what he’s thinking, how he likes to attack the offense so I can just better understand what in his mind or what he wants his defense to look like so I can display that on the field,” Trotter said. “But I just try to ask as many questions as possible, just pick his brain from him, see what he’s thinking and how he wants to attack the offense.”
Put it all together, and Trotter says he knows what it takes to make a great linebacker in the Clemson defense.
“It’s somebody that knows not just their position, but knows all the guys around them,” he said. “Somebody that can rally the guys be a leader. Somebody that is vocal and loud and somebody that just leads by example as well. And he just tries to set the example as far as what it’s supposed to look like on the practice field and how it carries over in the game.”
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