Most of the players that Clemson signed in December have already arrived on campus to start their college careers.
Of the 19 players the Tigers inked during the early signing period, a dozen of them enrolled early on Jan. 3, giving themselves the opportunity to participate in spring practice and a better chance to make an immediate impact in the fall by getting ahead of the game.
In our Impact Freshmen series detailing Clemson’s midyear enrollees, The Clemson Insider takes an in-depth look at linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr.:
Hometown (high school): Mt. Laurel, N.J. (St. Joseph’s Prep (Philadelphia, Pa.))
Listed height, weight: 6-2, 210
Prospect ratings/rankings: 5-star, No. 1 OLB, No. 1 state (Pa.), No. 7 national (ESPN); 4-star, No. 1 ILB, No. 2 state (Pa.), No. 30 national (247Sports); 4-star, No. 7 ILB, No. 6 state (Pa.), No. 115 national (Rivals)
High school profile: Clemson’s highest-rated player in the 2021 class by ESPN and its second-highest by 247Sports … invited to play in both the Under Armour All-America Game and the All-American Bowl … helped lead St. Joseph’s to a No. 3 national ranking according to USA Today
Strengths: The son of former longtime NFL linebacker and four-time Pro Bowler Jeremiah Trotter Sr., Trotter Jr. is rated as a five-star prospect and ranked as the No. 1 linebacker in the 2021 class by ESPN for a number of reasons. Trotter Jr.’s best attribute may be his ability to diagnose plays, and he plays with very natural instincts. He has an excellent feel for blitzing and possesses the speed and skills to play in space. Trotter Jr. is physical and makes his presence felt when tackling. He closes in on the ball quickly and strikes the ball carrier when he gets to the point of contact. Nicknamed the “Quiet Assassin” by Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables, Trotter Jr. is all about his business and simply puts his head down and goes to work. He has desirable leadership qualities and comes to Clemson with a winning pedigree, having helped St. Joseph’s Prep win two straight 6A state championships, including in 2020, when the team won its state title game, 62-13.
How he fits in: Next season, Clemson will return all three of its starting linebackers from the 2020 season in James Skalski, Baylon Spector and Mike Jones Jr. The Tigers also have depth behind that trio with linebackers such as Jake Venables, Trenton Simpson, Kane Patterson, Keith Maguire and LaVonta Bentley all having gained plenty of experience this past season. Trotter Jr. is the lone linebacker the Tigers signed in the 2021 class, and he will have the chance to show what he can do in spring practice as he tries to earn early playing time next fall. Head coach Dabo Swinney says Trotter Jr. is as good of a linebacker prospect as he has signed, and that’s saying something considering the Tigers have fielded some outstanding players in the linebacking corps during Swinney’s tenure. So, Trotter Jr. is a special talent with a bright future and has the potential to make a significant impact in the middle of Clemson’s defense in the future.
Coach speak: Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney on Trotter Jr.: “Great, great player. Awesome school. Comes from great bloodlines. We all remember his dad. But this is as good a linebacker prospect as we’ve signed. He can do it all. Unbelievable family, and super excited to get him.”
Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables on Trotter Jr.: “He really has got a great disposition to him. Very focused young man, very driven. Excellent student. Just very disciplined in everything that he does. He’s not in any riffraff whatsoever. He’s all business. He came to the Texas A&M game a couple years ago and committed in the locker room afterwards after having come to camp the previous summer. Love his family. He’s got a little brother that’s a monster. He’s the next great one. But comes from a terrific program… and has played with elite competition. Again, elite academics. He’ll transition really fast.”