Harry Trotter knows that with veteran status comes certain responsibilities.
As a senior and the most experienced member of Kansas State's running back corps, he is ask to impart wisdom and knowledge to his younger teammates as well as setting a good example.
"In my five years of football, I've learned a lot and been a lot of different places," said Trotter, a fifth-year senior from Atchison. "I think that's really important to me, helping those young guys out … just trying to give them as much advice as I can, helping them stay positive."
But even with freshmen Joe Ervin and Jacardia Wright — not to mention fellow senior Tyler Burns — nipping at his heels, Trotter is not willing to give up his first legitimate shot at the starting job, either.
"I feel good right now," Trotter said two weeks into preseason camp. "I feel stronger and faster than I was last season.
"Being a senior and knowing that I'm probably going to be leaned on a little bit more, I take that responsibility very seriously. I feel like I had a good offseason. Not a typical, normal offseason, but I feel like I handled it pretty well. I'm just excited to get back at it with my guys."
Trotter has made the rounds since completing a standout high school career at Maur Hill Mount Academy in Atchison. He started out at Fort Scott Community College, saw action in nine games at Louisville as a sophomore and then redshirted in 2018 after transferring to K-State.
Last year, he played behind graduate transfers James Gilbert and Jordon Brown, but still rushed for 263 yards and three touchdowns, plus caught three passes for 17 yards. His biggest game and his first career start came at Kansas, where he torched the Jayhawks for 92 yards on 17 carries in a 38-10 K-State victory.
"I think early on, just because of his game experience, I could see him getting a lot of snaps early," K-State running backs coach Brian Anderson said of Trotter, who appeared in all 13 games, including starts against Kansas, Texas and West Virginia. "But I see those other guys getting better also, so we've just got to play it by ear and hope they all stay healthy."
Trotter's experience could be even more of a factor after the coronavirus pandemic wiped out spring practice and kept the Wildcats away from campus for part of the summer, as well.
"The biggest thing that I think he brings to the table right now is his leadership," Anderson said. "With him getting snaps in Big 12 games, he has the experience to tell those guys what it's like and what they need to do in practice to get themselves prepared."
Trotter's preparation during the spring and summer quarantine period centered on speed and agility training. At 5-foot-11, 202 pounds, he also is a capable power runner.
"I feel a little bit faster and a little more agile," Trotter said. "I kind of put that as my focus in the offseason, as well as just being a little bit more mobile and able to make guys miss more.
"I think just learning the offense and having an extra couple of semesters to dive deeper into the offense and the schemes, I feel a lot more knowledgeable right now. I just feel really comfortable … a lot more confident than I did last year."
That's not to say that Trotter is expecting to be the workhorse or featured back in a K-State offense that values depth and consistency above all else.
"Our entire offense is based around the ability to run the football," Messingham said. "If it's Jacardia or Joe, if it's Tyler Burns or Harry, I'm OK with having a running back position by committee."
Burns played in all 13 games last year, primarily on special teams, but averaged 5.7 yards on 26 carries for 148 yards and two touchdowns. Wright and Ervin, both of whom preserved their redshirt seasons by appearing in four or fewer games, combined for 221 yards and two scores.
"I know it's going to be a rotation," Trotter said. "I know that Coach Mess (Messingham) and Coach (Chris) Klieman like to use a bunch of running backs.
"I think Tyler is really going to have a good season, as well. He's done a great job (and) he looks better physically than he did last year. Then I think Joe and Jacardia Wright are both very talented. I think we all complement each other."
Trotter's job, as he sees it, is encouraging the other backs to be their best.
"It's definitely really important for me," he said. "Tyler has done a great job helping me, as well, and Coach Anderson, just harping to those young guys just how important stuff is, practice is — the extra work you put in.
"I think it's really important to me to help those guys out."