It’s a rare occurrence, but come the end of April, the Watt family will have three brothers playing in the NFL.
All eyes are on the youngest, T.J., this week in Indianapolis at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Although T.J. announced at the beginning of the year that he was declaring for the 2017 NFL Draft, the concept of having three brothers play in the league hadn’t fully donned on Derek Watt until the Super Bowl.
“We just took a minute. Our whole family was there, and we just kind of appreciated that our hard work has paid off. In a short period of time here, that dream will come true for all three of us. It’s a pretty cool feeling, that’s for sure.”
While he admitted he and his family never fully anticipated having three Watts in the league, Derek said the way they grew up and the work ethic that was instilled in J.J., T.J. and him doesn’t make it surprising.
“It’s crazy and not common at all, but we pushed each other growing up. Our dad was our coach in a lot of our sports and he pushed us hard. We wouldn’t be here where we all are today without him, and our trainers and coaches who helped us throughout the way. We all have a tremendous work ethic and with (that) and pushing each other in our workouts and striving to be our best is how we got here.”
Another product of Wisconsin, T.J. played linebacker from 2013-2016. After redshirting and battling through injuries, he and Derek were finally able to play on the same team again, which was something they had done many times growing up.
“We’re closer in age than J.J. and I, and we lived together in college for a year and played together both in high school and college. We have that relationship of being on the same team. J.J. was always kind of envious that we had that opportunity and he never had that. It was definitely special.”
Derek added that while none of them played on the same team last season, their brotherly bond was kept tight by a group chat. The three Watts would text each other after each game and provide positive feedback. As Derek put it, “We all care about each other and want to see each other do our best so we’re extremely supportive.”
So what will a team get in drafting T.J.?
“He’s a tremendous athlete and has a lot to offer,” Derek said. “His size is one of his strengths and he has a lot to bring to the table. He only has a couple years under his belt at outside linebacker, but he’s taken that (position) and run with it already. I can’t wait to see how he continues to develop because it will be special.”
T.J. made his presence known for the Badgers this past season notching 63 tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. In addition, he had two forced fumbles and an interception, which he returned for a touchdown.
As Derek put it, his brother’s success was not a surprise.
“I’ve had a front row seat to how he’s developed. He played with me when I was young, and I was obviously the older guy on the teams, but he was playing. It wasn’t like he was just on the team. In college, he had a couple hiccups where his injuries held him back a little bit, but really he’s going to be special. In high school, he was a great player but in college he only got better.”
While both Derek and J.J. have gone through the draft process, Derek said they are providing any advice they can, but are mainly eager for T.J.’s next chapter.
“We’ll be extremely excited for him and will be either with him, or in extremely close contact when he has the big day and is able to get that phone call. I don’t think he’ll have to wait quite as long as I did, but it’s going to be a special day for our entire family. It’ll be emotional and it’ll be that next step. We’ll obviously be very proud of him, grateful and excited for the future.”