J.J. Watt’s football career at the University of Wisconsin was much like one of his pass rushes — quick and explosive.
Watt was on the field for just two seasons for the Badgers, but he made a significant impact. So much so that he was named to the Big Ten Network’s All-Decade first team on Thursday, marking the fourth UW alum to make the first team.
Watt was joined by Purdue product Ryan Kerrigan, and Ohio State alums Joey Bosa and Chase Young on the All-Decade first team. The team’s wide receivers were also named Thursday, and former Badger Jared Abbrederis was a second-team pick.
“I started at Wisconsin as a walk-on on the scout team. My defensive line coach, Charlie Partridge, would watch film with me at 10, 11 o’clock at night with me when he’d already watched film with the starters, game planned with the coaches, he’d already done all the work and it was late at night and we were the only ones up there,” Watt said of what the all-decade honor made him think of.
Watt was the Lott IMPACT Trophy winner as a redshirt junior in 2010, a season in which he earned second-team All-American honors and was a unanimous first-team All-Big Ten selection. He was the Badgers’ team MVP as well as a finalist for the Bednarik (top defensive player) and Hendricks (top defensive end) awards.
Watt had 62 total tackles, including 21 for loss, in 2010. He also tallied seven sacks, three forced fumbles, eight pass breakups and three blocked kicks.
“I’ve been able to live out my childhood dreams at every level,” Watt said. “If it was all taken away from me today, I’d be very thankful and grateful for what I got the opportunity to do. I was a kid in the backyard with my brothers pretending to down a football at the 1-yard line and playing two-hand touch football, and I got to play at one of the best universities in the country in my home state for those fans. I got to play in the NFL for 9, 10, however many more years.”
The Pewaukee product was the 11th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans, and has had one of the best pro careers in Badgers history. He’s won the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year three times, led the league in sacks twice and has been named to five Pro Bowls.
The BTN All-Decade team was voted on by a panel of 24 writers and analysts. The team’s quarterback, specialists, all-purpose player and coach will be announced Friday.
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