(Photo via Steelers Youth Football Twitter)
TJ Watt is considered one of the best linebackers in the National Football League with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The question is how did he get to this point? TJ grew up in Wisconsin and is the youngest of 2 brothers. John and Connie Watt are his parents who raised the 3 boys into elite professional football players. It is not common for all 3 brothers to make it into the NFL. That is what makes the Watt Brothers so special.
Watt attended Pewaukee High School in Wisconsin and would play for the Pirates football team. TJ was coached in high school by Clay Iverson. Eventually, he would end up being coached in College by Paul Chryst at Wisconsin. During the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association function, there was a photo of Iverson with his two sons and the Watt brothers being presented. Paul Chryst was at that function and told Iverson he didn't realize how small TJ was. Both Iverson and Paul would find out nothing TJ Watt did was small in regards to the game of football from that point forward.
Iverson said TJ Watt was a game-changer. His work ethic, workout routines, and the way he played football was game-changing. No matter what TJ does he is always praised for his work ethic, but TJ Watt is never satisfied.
Clay Iverson on TJ Watt: "The sky’s the limit, He’s already a top player. Your potential is raised by your level of work and T.J. will keep improving no matter if he wins or not, just knowing how he operates. And if he wins, he’ll want another."
When TJ left Pewaukee he was rated as a three-star recruit by various recruiting agencies. TJ started his Wisconsin career as a tight-end for the Wisconson Badgers. Watt would injure his knee in his 2014 season with the Badgers. It would take him almost a full year to recover from the injury. In 2015 Head Coach Paul Chryst asked TJ to switch to a defensive position. He would eventually fall in love with the outside linebacker position. Tim Tibesar (Wisconsin Outside Linebackers Coach) had to treat TJ Watt as a freshman in his sophomore year because he was teaching him a new position.
Fast forward to the fourth game of his junior year as a Badger and TJ was leading the Big Ten in Sacks.
Here are some of the recognitions TJ Watt earned during his career at Wisconson according to Wisconson Football's Website.
In 2016: First-team All-America (ESPN.com, Sports Illustrated), second-team All-America (AP, CBS Sports, FOX Sports), first-team All-Big Ten (consensus), Lott IMPACT Trophy quarterfinalist, Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week (Sept. 25), Academic All-Big Ten.
In 2015: Academic All-Big Ten.
Watt decided to enter the NFL draft after his Junior year in College. TJ was on the bubble of becoming a first-round draft pick so he decided to stay home with his family and friends during the night of the draft. To his surprise, he was drafted on April 27th, 2017 in the first round to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Some of TJ's closest friends were hoping he would be drafted by the Packers, but they did not realize how TJ Watt and the Pittsburgh Steelers would become a match made in heaven.
Through 4 seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers, TJ Watt has 168 solo tackles, 62 assists, 59 tackles for losses, and 49.5 sacks. In 2 seasons TJ was on track to break James Harrison's single-season sack record, but he was held out of both Week 16 games before heading into the Playoffs. TJ has been named team MVP for back-to-back seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He would be the first player since James Harrison (2007-2008) to be named team MVP in back-to-back seasons. Watt was recently robbed for the second time in 2 years to become the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year Award, but his time will come. The Pittsburgh Steelers need to make TJ Watt a Steeler for Life. He is that Special of a Football Player.