He didn’t narrow his list of 20 offers to a top five or a top three.
He didn’t make an official visit.
He didn’t hesitate.
For Jeremiah Trotter Jr., deciding on a college was a little like zeroing in on a ballcarrier: He read the situation and reacted without delay.
“It was just a matter of how comfortable I felt,” said Trotter, a star linebacker for St. Joseph’s Prep who committed earlier this month to reigning national champion Clemson. “I knew it was right for me.”
Just three games into his junior season, Trotter could have extended the recruiting process. He has offers from programs such Miami, Michigan State, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, among many others.
He could have taken his time. He could have made a bunch of official visits, listened as recruiters extolled the virtues of their programs, and romanticized his place in their futures.
But that’s not his nature. The son of the former Eagles linebacker of the same name is all business on the field and off.
“It wasn’t really that stressful to me,” Trotter said of the recruiting process. “I was just playing my game, trying to get better, not really focusing on where I was going to go.
"Play the game, work hard, keep getting better, and let everything play out. I was just focused on football.”
Trotter said that’s one of the reasons he made such a momentous decision so early in the process. He said he knew Clemson was right for him. He also wanted all his attention to be on making the most of his final two seasons at the Prep.
“That’s really where I want my focus to be,” he said.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound athlete is a top player who appears to be getting better. He’s coming off one of the best games of his career in St. Joseph’s 31-25 loss to national power IMG Academy of Bradenton, Fla., on Sept. 13 at Rutgers University.
“The IMG people said he was the best linebacker they’ve ever seen,” St. Joseph’s Prep coach Tim Roken said.
That’s remarkably high praise, considering that IMG annually plays a national schedule against some of the top teams in the country.
Trotter is a rare mix of natural ability and sharp instincts. He has a knack for reading plays, working around blockers in tight spaces, and closing on the football in a hurry.
“He’s so instinctive and so fast, and he works at it,” Roken said of Trotter, who was credited with 13 tackles and a sack in the loss to IMG.
St. Joseph’s Prep (1-2), the No. 1 team in The Inquirer’s Southeastern Pennsylvania rankings, was off this weekend after opening the season with three games against national-caliber opponents in Marietta (Ga.), St. John’s College (D.C.), and IMG.
Trotter said the Hawks gained valuable experience by playing such high-level competition.
“I like where we’re at right now,” he said.
St. Joseph’s opens the Catholic League portion of its schedule with a clash Sept. 28 against rival La Salle (4-0), the No. 3 team in the rankings.
“There’s like a different vibe when we’re going to play La Salle,” Trotter said.
Trotter still has to make his official visit to Clemson. But he spent four days at the school in June with his St. Joseph’s Prep teammates as part of the program’s annual community-service project.
He said he loved the vibe around campus. And he has developed relationships with head coach Dabo Swinney as well as his main recruiter, defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
“Clemson felt like here, it felt like the Prep,” Trotter said. “A lot of the characteristics of the Prep, I felt there. The school, the coaches, the family atmosphere.