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Could Jeremiah Trotter Jr. follow in his father's footsteps with Eagles?

Jeremiah Trotter Jr. would welcome the chance to be drafted by the same team that took his father decades ago.

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INDIANAPOLIS — Jeremiah Trotter Jr. never felt like he grew up in his dad’s shadow. 

He embraced it.

“I’ve never been the type to shy away from being the son of Jeremiah Trotter,” he said on Wednesday at the NFL Combine. “I appreciate him. He's always taught me a lot at the position and really helped me to get to this point today.”

The Eagles drafted Trotter Sr. in the third round in 1998 and he went on to play eight seasons for the Birds, making four Pro Bowls in a career that landed him in the Eagles Hall of Fame.

And at the combine this week, his son, the 21-year-old linebacker prospect from Clemson, said he would welcome it if the Eagles drafted him too.

“The Eagles are a great team, great club,” Trotter Jr. said. “It would be a blessing to play for them as well. I'm just really waiting for the opportunity to go wherever I go and get happy wherever I land.”

Trotter Jr. grew up in South Jersey and became a star for the St. Joseph’s Prep football team, leading them to back-to-back state titles. So if the Eagles were to draft Trotter, it would give him a chance to come home.

At the combine this week, Trotter had a formal interview with the Eagles and met with a full contingent, which included general manager Howie Roseman and head coach Nick Sirianni.

“They're great guys, brought great energy,” Trotter said. “Really got good vibes from them. I really respect what they're doing with their club.”

The Eagles haven’t drafted a linebacker in the first round since Jerry Robinson in 1979 and that’s very unlikely to change this year. Most draft analysts see Trotter as a Day 2 or early Day 3 pick. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said last week that he sees Trotter as a third-round pick. The Eagles don’t have their own third-round pick this year but they are projected to have a compensatory pick late in the round.

Jeremiah said this isn’t the stronger draft for off-ball linebackers, which could help Trotter’s stock.

“I’m curious to see how fast he is going to run,” Jeremiah said on a national conference call last week. “His game is more about instincts, which obviously are very crucial and very important at the linebacker spot. When I watched him, he is a little bit undersized. He has really good eyes. He sifts and sorts, and he will fill and be physical. He can thud off blocks, which you don't see a lot of guys take on. 

“I thought the speed and the range was just kind of so-so. If he runs well, yeah, then I think he can really help himself. I have him more in the third round personally. But, shoot, he goes out there and moves around really well and kind of aces the rest of the tests, I think he can find his way into potentially into the second round.”

There’s no doubt that Trotter is undersized. Clemson listed him at 6-foot, 230 pounds.

But there’s also no doubt that his lack of size didn’t hurt him at Clemson. Trotter filled up the stat sheet for the Tigers and was an All-American, finishing his college career with 202 tackles, 29 1/2 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, 13 pass breakups, 3 forced fumbles and 4 picks (2 of which he took to the house).

Trotter Sr. played linebacker too but played in a different NFL era. He was 6-1, 262 pounds. Way bigger than his son’s playing weight, but the league has changed a ton since his career ended in 2009.

“The game has definitely evolved where you're put in a lot more space as a linebacker,” Trotter Jr. said. “The way he describes my game — and I like to describe as well — is they say I'm an old-style-mindset linebacker in a new-age body. I feel I can play three downs. He says I'm more athletic than him but we had different playing styles, different body types, and play in different ages.”

At the combine, Trotter explained how the support from his father and mother helped him reach this point in his life and his football journey. Wednesday was the one-year anniversary of his mother’s death after a battle with cancer. Trotter misses his mother but says she’s still a motivating factor for him: “While this was my dream, this was also her dream as well.”

After his career at Clemson, Trotter is going to hear his name called during the draft.

But the big reason he never felt like he was in his dad’s shadow was because he felt unconditional support.

“I never really thought there was pressure on me to make it,” he said. “He was very supportive of me. He always told me and my brother (Josiah) as well, he plays football, but he told us both if we weren't playing football he'd still love us the same. He's a great dad, a great father, and I really appreciate him.”

Trotter began showing that appreciation at Clemson when he started to use his dad’s signature Axe Man celebration. The first time Trotter pulled off the celebration, he said his dad shed a tear.

“He might not want me saying that, but he shed a tear,” Trotter said.

In some ways, he’s an axe chip off the old block.

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