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April 11, 2011MADISON - Marcus Trotter is fine with the comparisons. He's fine carrying the monkey on his back. In fact, he uses it to his advantage and turns that monkey on his back into a chip on his shoulder.
He knows he wasn't offered a full-ride scholarship to play football at the University of Wisconsin even though his brother, Michael Trotter was. He knows he wasn't as highly touted. He knows he didn't have many offers to play at the division one level and he knows not many people gave him a chance.
He also knows that there is no time in the day to make excuses. It's not his style.
"I got told to my face by a lot of people that I'm too slow and too short and that I wasn't good enough to play division one football," Trotter said. "I have a poster of someone on Rivals.com saying I wasn't good enough and this or that. Just waking up everyday knowing that someone out there doesn't think I can do what I know I can do.
"So I just go every day and get better."
It's that mentality that has Marcus running with the No. 1 linebackers. It's that grind-it-out demeanor and that work ethic that has coaches raving about him. It's his determination to prove all the naysayer's wrong that will eventually give him a chance to play on Saturday's.
Like most of the linebackers on the UW roster, Trotter is young. He's one of a handful of players vying for a role in the two deep come fall camp. With Mike Taylor and Kevin Claxton manning the outside positions, Trotter has had an opportunity to run with the No. 1 defense throughout the entirety of spring camp.
That's experience that will do nothing but build more confidence for a kid that seemingly has no issues in that department.
"Coming in here I feel like I gained the defenses respect," Trotter said. "They know I can make plays. I feel like when they need me I am going to make it."
As is the case with most linebackers on the current roster, Trotter is still battling with consistency issues. One day he'll take the position by storm and become a defensive nightmare for the UW offense. The next he'll just be another guy trying to step up and make plays.
It's part of the territory.
"He's got pretty good instincts," head coach Bret Bielema said. "He can fill when he's supposed to fill. He fills aggressively. One of the thing's he's got to learn is his responsibility as it fits with everything. A lot of times he's just going like a madman.
"He's got to understand that if he's going to be the edge of the defense that it affects the other 10 players."
Frankly, it's really difficult to play at a high level when the experience factor isn't necessarily there. So when you have a case like that, with a determined player, the one thing that's encouraging is the work ethic.
Though Trotter may not always show up making the right plays on the practice film, his work ethic is 100 percent fool proof.
"He'll make some mistakes," UW linebacker coach Dave Huxtable said. "But man he shows up a lot making plays. I want guys that show up making plays and Marcus does that repeatedly. He's going to make a mistake here, but then he's coming right back and showing up making a play. It could be a tackle-for-loss or (a) pick.
"I love his energy, his enthusiasm and passion for the game."
Growing up with a competitive brother, one who is obviously athletic and successful as a football player, has really helped Marcus gain that knack for playing with controlled emotion. He's not overly demonstrative, but he's not quiet either. He's not cocky or arrogant, but he is confident.
"Me and my brother are kind of the same way," Trotter said. "I take stuff really hard. That's just how I am. I always like competing so if I do something wrong I always want to fix it. If I don't, then that's on me. Every day I just come out to work as hard as I can.
"If that doesn't work then I've got to work harder."
Should there be any lapse in the recovery of either Chris Borland or Ethan Armstrong, there is a great chance Trotter could be in the linebacker starting lineup for UW's opening game against UNLV.
Should those two regain their health and prove capable of playing at the standard they set, Trotter will be one of a handful of guys that the UW coaches will strive to get on the field in some sort.
As a 19-year-old freshman that many schools passed on because he was too short, too small or whatever else critique they may have had, that's not too shabby.
"I'm just trying to learn everything as much as I can," Trotter said. "They throw everything at me. I'm the commander. I have to tell everyone what's going on. It's pretty hard, but at the same time I'm the person that can do it.
"It's just a matter of time when everything clicks in."