Top 10 Facts About J.J. Watt

Top 10 Facts about J.J. Watt
Top 10 Facts about J.J. Watt

Top 10 Facts About The Fascinating J.J. Watt

cover photo credit: Debby Wong / Shutterstock.com

Have you heard about JJ Watt?  The chances are that if you live in the US and follow sports of any kind you will have heard of the meteoric career of this rather shy, incredibly dedicated and extremely hard working football star.

Coming in at 6 foot 5, this incredible young man has the physique of a superhero.  He weighs in at just shy of 300 pounds and has a training regime that even the fittest of men would struggle to emulate. Known for his ability to flip tires, his signature move is the box jump – he can clear more than 5 feet from a standing start.  Named as Most Valuable Defensive player twice in just a few years and coming close to being voted MVP (almost unheard of for a defensive player) he has fast established himself as one of the most versatile and talented players in the game.  His recent contract extension saw him become one of the best paid football stars of his generation.

While JJ Watts is an up and coming young man, a new household name, there are still many things that you might not know about this fascinating defensive player.  Here is our list of the top 10 things you really should know about JJ Watt.

  1. JJ Watt’s Home Is In Wisconsin

J.J. Watt is from Wisconsin.
J.J. Watt is from Wisconsin.

JJ Watt was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1989 and attended Pewaukee High School.  Although Wisconsin is a long way from his career base in Houston he confirmed his intention to keep close links with his home state when he purchased, in December 2014, a log cabin on a large plot of land for about $800,000.  When he bought it JJ Watt said that it was an empty space in the middle of nowhere, a place where there would be nothing to distract him from his training.

Buildings described as ‘minimalist log cabins’ in the ‘middle of nowhere’ bring to mind simple constructions of the type lived in by Laura Ingalls Wilder and her family of pioneers.  JJ Watt’s cabin, however, differs from those simple buildings quite significantly.  The house is, to be fair, made of wooden logs but it is rather large, coming in at 4,500 square feet, beautifully furnished (although to be fair JJ Watt might have changed the furniture from that shown in the pictures which belonged to the previous owner) and is less than 3 miles from the nearest Starbucks and 15 miles from the town he grew up in.

While it may not be quite as minimalist as JJ Watt let on, it is certainly fairly low key compared with the homes of many other celebrities.  The 36 acres of land that surround the house should also give him plenty of opportunities for enjoying the outdoors with his family and, of course, following a rigorous training regimen.

  1. JJ Watt Is An All Round Athlete

J.J. Watt played hockey
J.J. Watt played hockey

Wisconsin is a hockey state so it should come as no surprise that JJ Watt grew up as a big hockey fan.  He learned to skate when he was just 3 years old and played hockey up until he was 13 years old.  He only stopped because of the financial difficulty of replacing and maintaining his equipment and the complications of scheduling his games.

As a child he supported the Badgers and still has signed posters from his childhood and he still tries to watch hockey games whenever he can.  His goal is to travel and watch hockey at the Olympic Games one day.

Watt’s talents do not just extend to Football and Hockey, however, as during his time at Pewaukee High School he also played basketball and baseball and excelled in track and field.  In his senior year he won an All-State Selection for shot-put gaining the 2007 state title in the Division II championship and setting a high-school record of 59ft, 11.5 inches beating his father’s record.  His younger brothers followed in a family tradition and one beat him by 2 inches, an achievement which makes JJ Watts both proud and, of course, a little mad.

  1. JJ Watt Was Regarded As Only A 2 Star Recruit

J.J. Watt was a dismal prospect. Boy were they wrong.
J.J. Watt was a dismal prospect. Boy were they wrong.

In proof that nobody is infallible both Scouts and Rivals got their rankings for JJ Watt very badly wrong.  Both ranked him as no more than a 2 star recruit and did not feature him as either a top tight end or top defensive end player for his class.

JJ Watt is not the only player to have outperformed his recruit rankings but he certainly left those who analyzed his high school performance with egg on their faces.  He has gone on to be one of the most versatile of all modern players and has had an excellent career to date.  Given his determination always to be the very best that he can be it would be no surprise to see his career blossom still further in the years to come.

  1. JJ Watt Started His College Career In Central Michigan But Moved To Wisconsin

J.J. Watt was a badger!
J.J. Watt was a badger!

JJ Watt took up the offer of a scholarship with Central Michigan but only stayed with them for one season.  He was played as a tight end and had been told that he would have the opportunity for touch down scores in offense, the reality turned out to be very different and the situation left Watts deeply unsatisfied.  At one point he was asked to consider moving position to play offensive tackle but Watts decided to move back home instead.  Watts gave up his scholarship in return for a walk on position with the Wisconsin Badgers.  Although there has been much speculation about the move, some citing a breakdown in relations Watts, maintains that he has a great fondness and respect for Central Michigan (he even has a CMU decal on his car) but said his decision to move was a combination of wanting the opportunity to play defensive end and to move closer to home.  He often states that he is particularly family and home oriented (see above with regard to his decision to buy his home in Wisconsin instead of Houston) and that distance from his loved ones was the clinching factor in his decision to move.

The move was a huge gamble, leaving a top rated team and a secure scholarship at Central Michigan for an unknown and uncertain opportunity in Wisconsin led to many people in both states calling him stupid but for Watts it was a gamble he was willing to take even Watt himself acknowledges that he could ‘have easily fallen flat on my face’.  He also acknowledges that the move led to some friction and while the players on the Central Michigan team understood that he was under-utilized, the coaches did not take his decision well.

The decision proved to be the right one; Watts was redshirted in 2008 and named the 2008 Wisconsin Scout Team player of the year.  He played in 13 games in both 2009 and 2010 with a total of 103 tackles over the two years.  In 2010 he received the accolade of being voted the MVP for the team.

  1. JJ Watt Moved To Houston For His Professional Career

J.J. Watt moved to the big city to start his professional NFL career.
J.J. Watt moved to the big city to start his professional NFL career.

Despite having claimed that homesickness was one of the reasons behind his move from Michigan to Wisconsin (see above) JJ Watt was happy to move to Houston for his professional career.

He entered the draft early, deciding to eschew his senior year to participate in the 2011 draft.  He proved to be a top performer in all categories other than the 40 yard dash (which he completed in 4.84 seconds) performing exceptionally well in the NFL Combine with 34 bench press reps, a 37 inch vertical jump, 120 broad jump, 6.88 seconds for a three cone drill and a 20 yard shuttle in 4.21 seconds.  He was the Houston Texan’s first round pick and the 11th overall pick for 2011.  He signed a $11.24 million contract for four years.

Watts immediately proved that he was a good pick.  In 2011 he started all 16 games played and by the end of the season he had chalked up 56 tackles (48 solo) and five and a half sacks.  2011 was also the first year the Texans went to the playoffs and Watts was named Texans rookie of the year.  By 2012 he was doing even better ending the season with 81 tackles (69 solo) 20 and a half sacks recording one of the best ever seasons for a defensive player with the NFL.  He received a slew of awards including Texans MVP, PFWA MVP NFL 101 AFC Defensive Player of the Year and AP Defensive Player of the Year.