Kansas State running back Harry Trotter only had two scholarship offers coming out of high school, and neither of them came from the Wildcats.
Four years ago, his college football options were a NAIA school near his hometown of Atchison or Fort Scott Community College.
Neither option seemed desirable for someone like Trotter, who grew up hoping to play for the Kansas Jayhawks and wasn’t ready to give up on his dream of making it at the Division I level when they didn’t recruit him. So he bet on himself and went to junior college intent on transferring to a big-time program after a year or so.
That took him on a journey that led him to Louisville as a walk-on sophomore and then to K-State as a walk-on junior. He helped both teams behind the scenes and earned a scholarship over the summer from the Wildcats, but he still had plenty to prove when he got his first start last week and surprisingly rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown during a 38-10 victory at KU.
“I did grow up a fan of (the Jayhawks),” Trotter said. “I emailed them all the time. I definitely wanted to go there. I will always have a chip on my shoulder no matter who we are playing, but that was definitely a special week.”
Moments like that are what he hoped for when he started his college football career in the juco ranks.
“Just being able to play in the Big 12 closer to home and having an opportunity to make an impact on this team is the reason I chose to come here,” Trotter said. “I couldn’t be happier with the coaches and teammates I have here.”
It’s unclear how many more times Trotter will start at running back for the Wildcats this season. He was K-State’s featured rusher against the Jayhawks because usual starter James Gilbert was sidelined because of an injury and primary backup Jordon Brown was also limited.
Both Gilbert and Brown say they are on track to return to action on Saturday against Texas. So Trotter might return to his No. 3 role this weekend.
No matter what happens, he’s making an impact.
“It gives confidence to our offense in general that the schemes are good and if you just staying the course and getting those reps, you’re going to have an opportunity to make some plays,” K-State coach Chris Klieman said. “I was really impressed with Harry. I thought he played well.”
So did his teammates.
“He has never had anything given to him. He has always had to work for it. I appreciate guys like that,” K-State quarterback Skylar Thompson said. “It makes we want to go play hard for him. Having guys like that in the backfield whenever James and Jordon can’t go, I didn’t blink an eye. I don’t think anybody did, because we knew Harry and the type of player and guy he is.”
Trotter also impressed his former teammates at Louisville. So much so, that Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson gave him a shout out on Twitter earlier this year.
Few work harder than Trotter in the weight room. Thompson remembers several times over the summer when Trotter turned down offers to eat dinner after seven-on-seven practices, because he wanted to lift weights for the second time that day.
“I like going to bed at night knowing that I gave everything i had that day,” said Trotter, a 5-foot-11 and 202-pound athlete. “I like knowing that I am doing everything I can to get better.”
Even now, Trotter says he hits the weight room as often as possible.
Last week was a special game for him. But he wants more.
“People always say we have too many running backs,” GIlbert said. “There is no such thing as having too many running backs on a roster. Harry proved that last game. We get banged up at our position, I went down and Jordon went down, but now we’ve got Harry and Joe Ervin and Tyler Burns. It is good to have a lot of good, durable running backs. You never know what is going to happen. All of us run hard and all of us can get the job done, including Harry.”