A Thankless Job

The fifth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers have a lot to be thankful for this holiday weekend. Their health, success and having a chance to a share of the Big Ten championship Saturday with a victory over Northwestern. But without having a scout team full of highly-ranked players, the Badgers would simply blend in with the crowd.

MADISON — Oft forgotten among Wisconsin's ever impressive season are the contributions given from those players who don't have a chance to see the field. With the Badgers building a reputation around focus, hard work and determination, the refrain rings from the players each week on the key to winning: "We need to have a good week of practice."

Among the key players to that preparation are the first-year freshman taking a redshirt at UW. They make-up the ever shifting scout team each week, and perform the grunt tasks of preparing starters to play.

On top of all that, a player taking a redshirt is expected to bulk up in the weight room — without having to worry about getting physically worn out on the field — for an increasing role in the system next season.

Yes, it is a thankless task, but one almost every player goes through at one point.

To help get an insiders look at a non-injury redshirt season, Wisconsin natives Michael Trotter and Marcus Trotter have explained the finer details of their year to Badger Nation.

It isn't great work, but at least the hours are bad

Among the more mundane time-consuming tasks a redshirted freshman faces — such as carrying equipment to and from practice — the one that really stands out is the 5 a.m. lifting session.

According to Marcus, all healthy players taking a redshirt have to show up at 5 a.m. three times a week to bulk up. They also lift with the rest of the team twice a week, lending to quite the tired bodies in practice.

"Oh man, nothing is worse than the five o'clock lift," said Marcus. "You are up studying all night and then you have to lift in the morning. And then you have to practice. I would say that is the toughest part of red-shirting for sure."

And you can be assured that strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert makes sure the work outs are entertaining.

"The other day, we had to drag these [metal sleds] up and down the length of the field three times. And if anyone didn't finish within the time limit we had to start all over again," Michael said.

The Scout Team Dilemma

Apart with having to learn a different defense every week, the Trotter's have had to occasionally learn completely different roles.

When the Badgers were preparing for Arizona State, Marcus played the role of Vontaze Burfict, a linebacker known for his trash talking abilities.

"The coaches told me, 'just never stop talking,'" Marcus said. "So I was taking [trash] the whole time. It didn't matter if it was a teammate or the offense. I didn't shut up.

"I got punched so many times that week. Carimi got mad at me on one play and punched me in the arm. My arm was so sore at the end of the day."

Apparently the punching treatment is nothing knew to the Trotters.

You can get hit on the arm for doing something poorly — or doing something too well.

"The worst part about Scout team, is that if you mess up they yell at you," Marcus said. "But if you do to well, they yell at you, too. Pretty much everybody is just angry at Scout team all the time."

But when they do their job, everybody wins. Against Michigan last Saturday, Marcus mirrored senior linebacker Obi Ezeh while Michael impersonated freshman Ray Vinopal, the same safety he beat out for a UW scholarship.

Both were a relative non-factor, combining for only nine tackles as the Badgers' offense racked up 558 total yards in a 48-28 victory.

And they are still Student-Athletes

Michael and Marcus are taking their academics seriously. Michael plans on becoming a doctor while Marcus is working to get into the business school.

Combining studies with all of the hours football requires, and road games are actually a welcome reprieve with the extra hours the redshirts get to themselves.

"Since we don't get to go with them on road trips, we have those Saturday's to ourselves," Marcus said with a laugh. "So much free time."

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