In spring practice, the Wisconsin coaching staff decided to move Michael Trotter from safety to linebacker, giving him the chance to play alongside his twin brother, Marcus, for their final season.
How fitting. Ever since they were young, the redshirt seniors have had an inseparable bond that extends well beyond football.
“Every day I learn something new. I’ve only been at this position for four, five months,” Michael said. “But that’s why it’s nice to have Marcus to guide me.”
“Whenever he has a question he comes to me, whenever I have a question about some type of coverage I can always go to him,” Marcus said. “I know he believes in me when I go on the field and I definitely believe in him when he comes down.”
They haven’t played linebacker together since grade school, and even now, they rarely see the field at the same time. When Marcus comes off for a breather, Michael steps in to replace him.
Still, working at the same position has allowed the brothers to spend more time together at practices. They can once again rely on each other as their biggest source of competition as they fight for playing time.
That competitive nature has been around ever since the Trotters were little, according to their father, John. Though they argued constantly, it never became confrontational and always remained constructive.
“I used to call them grumpy old men because they were always competing, not only playing sports but in class. Just always debating,” John said. “But they were the best of friends all the time.”
Their father recalls a story when the boys were eight years old that illustrates their brotherly bond. The family has a summer getaway spot in Michigan, and one Friday their mother, Dana, took Michael there for the weekend while Marcus stayed home with his dad in Racine, Wis.
All weekend long, Marcus moped around the house and struggled to eat. When Dana and Michael returned home to Racine, she said that Michael had been doing the exact same thing in Michigan.
“When they got back together again it was like a happy reunion,” John said. “That’s the way they are when they’re apart and that’s the way they are when they’re together.”
As the boys grew older and entered high school, they quickly learned to utilize their competitiveness to motivate teammates. Jeffrey Mazurczak, the defensive coordinator during the Trotters’ time at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee who now serves as head coach, says the brothers made it a goal after their freshman year to win a state championship by the time they graduated.
“Since they didn’t have their driver’s license yet, if they couldn’t get a ride down to our weight facility to lift in the morning, they would take a cab from Racine to Marquette High,” Mazurczak said. “That’s how dedicated they were.”
Surrounded by a talented high school roster, Marcus and Michael emerged as two leaders of the team. During their senior season in 2009, the brothers fulfilled their freshman year dream as Marquette won the WIAA Division 1 state title.
“The thing that was so admirable about them was how hard they worked. In the classroom, on the football field, they were just hard workers,” Mazurczak said. “Anything that came to them, they deservedly got because they worked so darn hard for it.”
Though the Trotters have spent much of their Wisconsin careers in a reserve role, each is happy with the way things have gone. They’re at a point now where they can reflect on the past with an eye toward the future.
“Everyone wants to be a four-year starter and be a big contributor, but what Marcus and I are focused on right now is just leaving on a good note,” Michael said. “The years behind us have passed, we did our best, and it prepped us up for this year.”
With two doctors for parents, the Trotters have always understood the importance of academics. The brothers each have three Academic All-Big Ten selections and have high ambitions once their college careers reach their end. Michael has a job lined up at a public accounting firm in Minneapolis, while Marcus just finished his applications to medical school.
It will mark the first time the brothers will ever be living in different cities.
“They thought that they would kind of separate and go their own way [in college], and after their freshman year they’ve been [living] together ever since,” John said. “I think it will be quite difficult at the end of the season when they get a chance to go their own ways.”
But with such a strong relationship forged through years of competitive support, distance won’t matter. For now though, the Trotters will enjoy their final year of football alongside each other, inseparable brothers like always.