In spite of the fact that Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt stands at 6’6″ tall and he tips the scales at 290 lbs., he is a kid at heart as he is playing a child’s game. But make no mistake about the fact that Watt is all business when he steps onto the football field every Sunday afternoon. Watt’s road to NFL stardom is a very interesting one. Watt originally attended Central Michigan University where he played tight end. After one year Watt would transfer to Wisconsin where he would discover the defensive side of the football. But between his time at Central Michigan and Wisconsin, Watt delivered pizzas. In 2010, Watt was a second-team All-American as he helped Wisconsin win the Big Ten Championship. The Texans would make Watt the 11th overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft and it would not take him that long to make an impact.
As a rookie Watt would have 5.5 sacks in helping the Texans win the AFC South for the first time in franchise history. In 2012, Watt would become only the eighth player in NFL history to record at least 20 sacks in a season when he finished with 20.5. Watt’s incredible season would see him be named as the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year. In spite of the Texans 2-14 record in 2013, Watt was still a terror as he finished the year with 10.5 sacks and he earned his second consecutive Pro Bowl selection.
This past summer the Texans rewarded Watt’s efforts with a six-year, $100 million extension. Where some players would rest on their laurels after being paid handsomely, Watt is out prove that he is still underpaid. Through four games this season Watt only has a pair of sacks but he is making an immense impact. In the Texans Week 2 victory over the Oakland Raiders, Watt reverted to his a days as a tight end at Central Michigan by catching a one-yard touchdown pass from Texans quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. Yesterday the Texans found themselves trailing the Buffalo Bills 10-7 in the third quarter. The Bills were driving for a touchdown when the Texans defense forced Bills quarterback EJ Manuel to hurry his pass which comfortably landed in the big mitts of Watt who scampered 80 yards for a touchdown. The touchdown by Watt ignited his teammates and the fans at NRG Stadium in Houston as the Texans would get the 23-17 victory.
Watt makes life easy for Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and his fellow defensive teammates while making life extremely tough for opponents that are attempting to game plan for him. Watt is a defensive end by trade, but he has the ability to line up anywhere in the defensive front seven for the Texans. By being able to line up in multiple positions it makes things tougher for offenses to get a fix as far as where Watt is coming from while also minimizing their ability to double or triple team him. Even when Watt is doubled he still makes an impact. Watt has a wing span of nearly 7-feet and when he cannot get to the quarterback he will swat the ball as if he was Dikembe Mutombo.
Under first-year head coach Bill O’Brien, the Texans have already surpassed their win total from a season ago as they are 3-1 and sitting atop the AFC South with Watt being a big part in that. In just three-plus seasons Watt already has 38.5 sacks while forcing 8 fumbles. Defensive players such as Watt are the kind of impact guys that you will see once in a generation. Watt is only 25-years old, but he is already drawing comparisons to Hall of Fame defensive players such as Deacon Jones, Lawrence Taylor, and Reggie White for the way that he impacts a game and simply disrupts the game plan of an opposing offense. And like Jones, Taylor, and White, Watt simply makes the players around him better.
As rugged as Watt is on the field he is just that gentle off of it. Watt does a ton of charitable work in the Houston area and is the kind of man that will give you the shirt off of his back. But on Sundays he is looking to rip the shirt off of the back of quarterbacks in the effort to help the Texans will football games. Barring a severe injury Watt will continue to get better and when it is all said and done he will be one of the greatest players to ever step onto the gridiron in the National Football League.