It seems there are a few leadership roles to be filled for the Badgers defense.
While the likes of Chris Borland, Ethan Hemer, Beau Allen and Ethan Armstrong having exited – leaving gaping holes supporting both the athletic and mental sides of Wisconsin’s game – a few names have crawled to the forefront as those who are ready and willing to lead another stellar defensive team for head coach Gary Andersen and defensive coach Dave Aranda.
Aranda will enter his second full season as the Badgers’ defensive coordinator after spending 2012 with Andersen at Utah State. As the defensive coordinator at USU he oversaw an Aggies defense that ranked eighth in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 15.4 points per game.
Wisconsin wasn’t too shabby last year, either, ranking seventh overall in total defense allowing a stingy 4.73 yards per play and just over 300 yards of total offense per game.
A lot of Wisconsin’s success on defense through the years has come at the strength of two key positions – inside linebacker and safety.
Two names immediately come to the top when inspecting the prospects of the 2014 Wisconsin Badgers defense and that’s the brother’s Trotter – Marcus and Michael.
Both players are red shirt seniors coming into camp this year with a bit of a chip on their shoulder.
Michael was the No. 38 safety in the country by Rivals, No. 86 safety according to Scout and No. 108 to ESPN/Scouts Inc. coming out of Marquette High School in Milwaukee as a senior.
He was the overall top-ranked player in Wisconsin according to Rivals and also the state’s Defensive Player of the Year, Player of the Year in Milwaukee and first-team all-state and all-area as a senior.
He followed in the footsteps of one of the greatest Badgers defensive backs of all-time, winning the Jim Leonhard Award on his way to Madison.
His most productive year as a Badger was his sophomore campaign where he played in 12 games, including the Rose Bowl. An injury riddled start to his junior season kept him behind schedule, but coming into the 2014 camp healthy has been his biggest benefactor thus far.
Marcus has taken much of a similar route.
And inside backer, his size, speed and strength rival that of the departed Borland.
Twice during his red shirt season, Trotter showed why he was so highly regarded out of the prep scene – earning Scout Team Player of the Week honors twice in the same season.
Injury struck him during the sophomore campaign, but with a healthy season under his belt a year ago, things should continue to accelerate forward for Marcus this season.
And while each will try to shine in their own respective manners this season, their last in the Cardinal red, they’ll do it the way they’ve gone about everything so far in life, together.
“We’re so used to it because we’ve been with each other all our lives,” Marcus said. “I see him every day, he’s my second half. Our relationship has definitely grown here and we help each other all the time. He’s my best friend and I’m really happy he’s here. I’m really excited for him. He’s going to shine.”