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April 15, 2022

PhillyVoice Player of the Year Josiah Trotter chooses West Virginia

Josiah Trotter has a job to do this coming fall. The St. Joe’s Prep 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior middle linebacker’s single focus is to graduate as a three-time triple-crown winner, winning the Philadelphia Catholic League, District 12 and PIAA Class 6A state championships.

His responsibility plate just got lighter Friday afternoon when Trotter, the youngest son of beloved former Eagle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter, made it official on social media that he’s committing to West Virginia next fall on a football scholarship.

Josiah, considered one of the best high school linebackers in the country, chose West Virginia over Virginia Tech and South Carolina. Josiah actually told West Virginia coach Neal Brown in March.

“We wanted what was best for Josiah, because any of the schools he was interested in, he was going to get a really good degree,” said Jeremiah Trotter, Josiah’s dad. “Josiah had good relationships with all of the schools (that were interested). What it really came down to was the system. That was the most important thing. I really like their system. I liked how they wanted to use him. I was hearing all of the important things that I wanted to hear.

“We had a really good opportunity to watch and break down film with their DC (Jordan Lesley) and saw how they wanted to use him, with their calls and checks. I was very pleased with their coaching style. I was very pleased with their strength and conditioning coach (Mike Joseph), and they say he’s one of the best in the country. You know that matters.

“It was pretty clear to me on our first trip to West Virginia that was the place. But it was Josiah’s choice. We wanted to do our due diligence, and when we took the second trip, I didn’t think it would get any better. It got better than the first time. Josiah started to see the same things I was seeing and he got locked in, too.”

Josiah will leave St. Joe’s Prep, a national power, as a rare four-year starter. He replaced his brother his freshman year, when Jeremiah was lost for the season with an injury. He played alongside Jeremiah as a sophomore, and played an instrumental role his junior year, playing middle linebacker and a special role in goal-line offense as a fullback, catching a touchdown pass in the state 6A championship against Mount Lebanon, a 35-17 Prep loss.

“I would say going through the (recruiting) process was (initially) really tough, trying to figure everything out but as time went on, talking with family and friends, it became pretty easy where my new home would be,” Josiah said. “I am happy, definitely happy. My parents are good with it. My dad loves West Virginia, and Jeremiah (his brother) was behind any decision I made.

“I silently committed to coach Brown back in March over the phone. I just wanted to lay low and make it public (on Friday). I thought this was the right time to make it public. I definitely have some unfinished business my senior year.

“It did bother me seeing our seniors leave the field without a state championship last year. I saw the time and commitment those seniors put in.”

Josiah did consider national powerhouse Clemson, where his older brother, Jeremiah Trotter Jr., is slated to start this coming season at middle linebacker as a true sophomore. Jeremiah is listed at 6-foot, 230 pounds. Josiah now stands as the tallest Trotter, about a half-inch taller than his dad, who played 11 years in the NFL, eight with the Eagles.

“I always wanted to play with my brother, and Clemson was a consideration,” Josiah said. “It was a big deal to play with my brother, but we got that chance to play next to each other in high school. Playing in high school with him was a great experience. I spoke to Jeremiah about it, and he wanted me to go what was best for me. And what’s best for me is West Virginia.

“It’s a good fit. It’s the most comfortable environment. They run a zone defense, which allows the Mike linebacker to make a lot of plays. They play a mixture of things, 4-3, 5-2, and they want me to play the Mike. It came down to West Virginia, Virginia Tech and South Carolina. Coach (Brent) Pry (former Penn State defensive coordinator now the head coach at Virginia Tech) was a big factor in that.”

Another the determining factor in his choice of West Virginia came with the possibility of playing quickly, along with the type of defense the Mountaineers run and the attention the coaching staff gave him during recruiting. West Virginia finished 6-7 overall and 4-5 in the Big 12 Conference last season.

The Mountaineer program does have ties to the area. Last season, Leddie Brown, a Neumann-Goretti standout, led West Virginia in rushing with 1,065 yards and 13 touchdowns. He’s projected by some NFL draft experts to be a third-day choice.

“I may be able make a fast difference within the program and I like what they allow the middle linebacker to do,” Josiah said. “This is a big load off my mind, because it is one less thing having to worry about my senior year. I have a job to do. I can focus on football and reaching that next level.

“It’s something I wanted to get off my chest. I feel West Virginia is home for me. Now I have to get locked in for next season, and make sure everyone else is locked in. We’re making sure things are together now, instead of later in the season. Jeremiah wears my dad’s No. 54, which is what he wore in the NFL with the Eagles. I’ll get to wear No. 40 (his high school number) at West Virginia. That was my dad’s college number, and the guy who has it now at West Virginia is a senior.

“It’s about being happy and I feel I’ll be happy at West Virginia. I get to focus on football now.”

Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter based in the Philadelphia area who has been writing for PhillyVoice since its inception in 2015 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on Twitter here.