No. 39 — J.J. Watt, Football
If you’ve been living under a rock the past half decade, let us introduce you to the man who went from local legend to the good-guy face of the NFL these days — Wisconsin Badgers’ own J.J. Watt!
So, if the guy is legendary and winning Player of the Year honors, why is he so low on our list? Well, the story of Watt’s rise is part of the reason for that. That’s because Watt spent just two seasons as a player recording any stats before heading off to the NFL following his junior season.
Watt was masterfully impactful in those two years though, starting as a sophomore and racking up 44 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks. He followed that up with an even bigger junior year — putting up 62 tackles, 20.5 tackles for loss season in 2010 (according to our friends at CFBstats.com) and a ridiculous nine passes defensed.
For that effort, Watt was named second-team All-American by both the AP and Sports Illustrated. He was also a consensus first-team All-Big Ten pick and the Lott IMPACT Trophy winner.
However, Watt’s 36.5 career tackles for loss put him just 12th on the all-time list at UW, and even another repeat performance of 2010 in 2011 statistically wouldn’t have given him the 1st place spot.
There is little doubt that Watt made a massive impact, but in an athletic department full of nearly 150 years of history, just two years to make an impact in football hurt Watt from being any higher on this list. It also didn’t help that his status has seemingly reached mythological status within some Badger circles, based solely on his NFL career.
As a Badger, Watt was undoubtedly one of the greats of his era and for that he lands on this list. Let’s just remember that Watt, as a Badger, isn’t quite as mythological as he has become as a Houston Texan.
Full 50 Greatest Badgers List:
No. 50 – Randy Jablonic
No. 49 – Alex Rigsby
No. 48 — Michael Lihrman
No. 47 — Howard “Cub” Buck
No. 46 — Don Davey
No. 45 — Pat O’Dea
No. 44 — Curtis Joseph
No. 43 — Dean Anderson
No. 42 — Ivy Martin
No. 41 — Ron Vander Kelen
No. 40 — Carly Piper
What say you about JJ Watt or any other member of the list to date? Join the conversation on Twitter @MTBadgers and use hashtag #GreatestBadgers.