2 freshmen defenders are beyond their years

2 freshmen defenders are beyond their years

Football

2 freshmen defenders are beyond their years

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Brent Venables wants to know what safety Andrew Mukuba and linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, Jr. have over in their Clemson area apartment that none of the other freshmen have.

The two Clemson freshmen, who are roommates, have been the talk of the spring on the defensive side since spring practice began back in late February.

“Whatever they got over in Apartment 1-A or whatever it is over there, they have the right stuff in that apartment,” Venables said with a laugh.

Clemson’s defensive coordinator says Mukuba has played well while practicing at safety and corner for the Tigers, while Trotter has been equally impressive at linebacker. He says both freshmen have shown instincts, physical toughness, good fundamentals, technique, have been sharp mentally and very diligent.

It is of no surprise Trotter is already exceling, given his background.

Trotter is the son of former NFL linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, Sr., a four-time Pro Bowl selection. The younger Trotter is considered to have some of the same attributes as his father.

He was rated as a five-star prospect and ranked as the No. 1 linebacker in the 2021 class by ESPN for a number of reasons.

“He is about his business,” said Venables, who is also Trotter’s position coach. “He has had a great semester academically and the same on the field and in the football classroom. He has been excellent. You can really see the maturity and the wisdom that is beyond his years.”

The Clemson coach says it takes a certain focus for a player to show what Trotter, Jr. has shown Venables in the Tigers’ 14 practices to this point.

“It takes maturity to prioritize,” he said. “Everybody on (this Zoom call) remembers when we were all young or if you have children, if they are young, getting them to focus and to prioritize is one of the hardest things to do and he has been able to do it in his first semester.

“He has had a really good spring. He had some moments where he hit the wall and had some tough days. His grades overall are nothing to right home about, but his production has been really good.”

Venables says when Trotter gets things cleaned up as he continues to get his opportunities, he thinks he is going to be a really good linebacker for the Tigers.

“I think he has a really great future. He’s got the right stuff,” Clemson’s linebackers coach said. “He has all the intangibles, but he is also gifted from an instinctual standpoint, blitzing and a physicality standpoint. He is not real big yet, so that will be a focal point going into the summer without putting on too much weight too soon. There is always that fine line. You want to carry it well. I think he might be close to 220 or 218 or so and maybe get him closer to 225 or 228 by the end of the summer. That would be a realistic goal.

“But he is a great teammate. He is willing to be lead, but he is about his business and he has had a good spring.”

photo courtesy of Clemson Athletics Communications 

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