CLEMSON, S.C. — The Butkus Foundation announced today that Clemson linebacker Jeremiah Trotter Jr. has been named as a finalist for the 2023 Butkus Award, presented annually to the nation’s top linebacker. Trotter is one of five finalists, alongside Missouri’s Ty’Ron Hopper, Washington’s Edefuan Ulofoshio, Mississippi State’s Nathaniel Watson and NC State’s Payton Wilson.
Trotter joins Isaiah Simmons (2019), Tre Lamar (2018), Dorian O’Daniel (2017), Keith Adams (2000) and Levon Kirkland (1990) as one of six Butkus finalists in school history. If Trotter were to win the award, he would become the second player in school history to collect the honor, joining Simmons’ victory from 2019.
“He is the epitome of consistency and preparation,” Head Coach Dabo Swinney said recently of Trotter. “That guy is a worker. He loves to study the game. He studies the nuances of it. He has great anticipation in what he does, block recognition. He’s a quarterback out there that’s playing at a high level… Certainly he’s talented and he’s got all the attributes, but there’s a lot of guys that are really talented that don’t play the game like he does, and that’s because of all of the other stuff you don’t see as far as how this kid prepares.”
Trotter has started all 11 games for Clemson this season and has started each of Clemson’s last 25 games dating to the start of the 2022 season. This year, Clemson’s coaches have credited him with a team-high 82 tackles in addition to leading the Tigers in tackles for loss (14.5) and sacks (5.5). He is also tied for the team lead in forced fumbles (two) and interceptions (two, including one returned for a touchdown), and his six pass breakups rank third. He is the only FBS player in America to have recorded at least 14 tackles for loss, at least five sacks, multiple interceptions, multiple forced fumbles and a pick-six this season.
Trotter, a second-team All-America selection by the Associated Press a season ago, leads Clemson’s 10th-ranked total defense and is the only finalist who has led a defense that ranks in the top 20 nationally in yards per game. Trotter and his teammates also presently rank fifth in the nation in first downs allowed per game (14.6) and eighth in yards allowed per play (4.60).
“He’s certainly got natural instincts and a high football IQ, but he puts the work in,” Swinney said. “He’s like a Christian Wilkins at linebacker. He puts that type of work and preparation in, and it’s fun to see him get the results. Great leader — he sets the tone.”
In addition to being a Butkus Award finalist, Trotter is a Bednarik Award semifinalist and a prime candidate for All-America and All-ACC honors.
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