Playing behind Newton last season as the number two quarterback, Trotter played in only five games and completed just six of nine passes for 64 yards and added 68 yards on the ground on five attempts. That little time though may have been one of the edges for Trotter in the race for the job.
This time around it was Trotter's turn as he edged out sophomore Clint Moseley to earn the trust of Head Coach Gene Chizik and Auburn Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn. Having graduated before he earned his first career start, Trotter said walking onto the practice field Thursday night as the number one guy for the first time was a new and much different feeling for him.
"It felt good," Trotter said. "Today was just another day at practice, but at the same time it was new for me knowing I'm the starting guy and it's up to me to make sure things run like they ought to. I felt a lot more responsible for things that happened on the field when I was out there. If there was a missed assignment or dropped ball or ball on the ground, those are the things I'm going to have to start putting on my back. I'm definitely going to have to take up that role."
Knowing what it feels like to finish second, Trotter had sympathy for one of his best friends on the team in Moseley. Visibly upset at not being the starter, Moseley will be the number two quarterback for the Tigers and Trotter said he has no doubts he'll be ready if called upon.
"We talked for a minute," Trotter said of Moseley. "Before the coaches called us in (Chizik and Malzahn) I just grabbed him up and we prayed for a minute in Coach Malzahn's office. We just asked the Lord to let his will be done and let us be able to cheer on the other one. We've been good friends throughout this whole thing and I don't think any of this is going to mess that up. I know he's really disappointed he didn't get the job, I would have been too. At the same time in a few days or a few weeks he'll come out of that and be a great back-up and great friend."
Saying repeatedly that he's not a fan of playing two quarterbacks, Trotter said Malzahn told them that whoever won the job would be the guy for the Tigers unless proven otherwise or an injury occurs. Trotter said that's something that's helpful heading into the season.
"The coaches have made it a point to say once they pick a guy that's who they're going with," Trotter said. "That's my mindset. I'm not going to have to look over my shoulder, but at the same time I think we have a great back-up in Clint in case something happens to me or whatever the case may be. That's always a big plus for the coaches to have that confidence and for me also to know if something happens this team is definitely going to have a guy that can step up and do it. That's a testament to how long it took to name a starter and how much of a battle it was and how good Clint is."
With Michael Dyer and Onterio McCalebb back in the backfield and veterans Emory Blake and Philip Lutzenkirchen on the outside, Trotter has some weapons to work with as he heads into his first season as a starter. Many of those guys put up big numbers with Newton at the helm last season and while Trotter won't be confused with the overall number one pick in the NFL Draft, he said he did watch and learn from Newton and pick up some things that he feels will help him become a better quarterback.
"He was always an encourager," Trotter said of Newton. "He was able to coach up the guys on the field and off the field. When the coaches were busy he could run over and grab a guy and say ‘here's what you need to know and here's what we're doing'. Those are the types of things that help your teammates respect you and for you to also take up that leadership role with those guys."
With just over two weeks left until the season opener against Utah State, Trotter will now have to shift into a different mode as he goes from trying to win the job to trying to be the leader for the team. A confident player in his ability and a fierce competitor, he said he's looking forward to becoming that player for the Tigers in 2011.
"I'm definitely excited to be named the starter," Trotter said. "Obviously it comes with a lot of responsibility and that's another role I'm going to have to take on now. I feel prepared to do that. I'm just glad it's all over and named the starter. I'm glad to have it behind me so I can really get ready for the season. My mindset is going to have to change from trying to winning the job to leading this team and the offense especially and getting the ball in the end zone every time. That's our goal."
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