By Danny Cox
Name: J.J. Watt – LB – #99
Weight: 289 lbs.
College: University of Wisconsin
Experience: 3 years
The Houston Texans are only a little over a decade old, but they’ve come a long way in that short amount of time. They’ve seen a great number of players come and go, but usually either with little fanfare or to build up their skills and head on out. What they need is a leader who can bring things together, guide the team, and prove to everyone that Texans can hold their own with any team in the NFL.
Who would have thought that would be a 24-year-old?
J.J. Watt is who the Houston Texans have been looking for in a defensive player ever since they came into existence back in 2002. Yes, that can be said even though they had Mario Williams manning the end of the line for five years before he left for Buffalo during the 2012 free agency period.
In just his second season, Watt racked up seven more sacks than Williams ever had in a single season throughout his entire career. That right there shows dominance, and there’s so much more to him.
While attending high school in Wisconsin, Watt played defensive end and tight end while also playing a number of other sports. He excelled at everything he ever did, but realized that even though he was from up north where talent isn’t as rich as southern parts of the country, he was destined to play in the NFL.
Watt originally attended Central Michigan University in 2007 and started his collegiate football career at tight end. He had a mere eight receptions for 77 yards, and realized that something needed to change. Not only was he not sure that tight end was the position for him, but he also wasn’t sure if Central Michigan was the right school.READ MORE: Areas Teeming With Restaurants, Bars Are In Balancing Act Between High COVID-19 Vaccination Rates And Rising Case Numbers
He transferred to the University of Wisconsin and redshirted the 2008 season. In 2009, J.J. Watt jumped to the defensive end position and started all 13 games for the Badgers, finishing the season with 44 tackles and four sacks. He also recovered two fumbles and 15.5 tackles of his 44 were for loss of yards.
In 2010, Watt played even better. Creating 62 total tackles, seven sacks, two fumble recoveries, and an interception. That garnered him the 2010 Lott Trophy, which is otherwise known as the Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year award. Integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community, and tenacity were all characteristics evident in 2010. He was even a finalist for the Ted Hendricks Award, which is earned by the top defensive end in college. J.J. Watt was ready for the next level.
The Houston Texans selected Watt with the 11th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and he wasted no time getting right into the thick of things. In his first game as a pro, Watt recorded five solo tackles and recovered a fumble. He finished his first NFL season with 56 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and two fumble recoveries.
But he was just getting started.
Mario Williams departed Houston and joined the Buffalo Bills in 2012, and that meant it was now Watt’s turn to take charge of the defense and truly shine. He didn’t take that challenge lightly.
As the premiere defensive end for the Texans, J.J. Watt chalked up 81 total tackles with 69 of them solo. He forced four fumbles and recovered two throughout the season. The big number though, came with Watt racking up 20.5 sacks in only his second full NFL season––something Mario Williams has never done. Actually, hitting 20 sacks in a single season is something that only eight other players have done in league history. Watt’s 20.5 sacks was only two off from Michael Strahan’s record of 22.5 back in 2001.
Watt is only in his second year though, and he is only going to get better.
For more NFL player features, visit 32 Players, 32 Days.MORE NEWS: Phase 2 Opens Monday In Illinois Outside Chicago For Anyone 16 And Over To Get COVID-19 Vaccine, But Teens Under 18 Face Challenge
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.