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Justin James Watt was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin on March 22, 1989. J.J. Watt played numerous sports through his childhood such as football, hockey, basketball, baseball, and track. However, he was a standout at football, as he was selected for Wisconsin’s All-State first team and was a letter winner four years in a row. During his senior year at Pewaukee High School, J.J. Watt accrued a total of 5 touchdowns, 26 catches, and 399 total receiving yards.
During the college recruiting process, J.J. Watt was rated the number 7 scouting prospect out of Wisconsin, but was not considered one of the top defensive end or tight end prospects in his graduating class. After visiting Colorado, Minnesota, and Central Michigan, J.J. Watt elected to accept a scholarship from Central Michigan University to play as tight end. During the 2007 year, he played 14 games, yielding a total of 8 receptions and 77 receiving yards. However, he chose to walk-on at the University of Wisconsin for the 2008 season as he wanted to move closer to home and play defensive end.
At the University of Wisconsin, J.J. Watt was redshirted for 2009 and named the Scout Team Player of the Year. During the 2009 season, he played 13 games as defensive end and completed the season with 4 ½ sacks, 12 assisted tackles, and 32 solo tackles. In 2010, J.J. Watt again played 13 games and led Wisconsin in forced fumbles, tackles for loss, blocked kicks, and quarterback hurries. Improving his previous year’s record, he completed the season with one 15 year interception, 3 forced fumbles, 9 defensed passes, 20 assisted tackles, 42 solo tackles, 7 sacks, and 21 tackles for loss. J.J. Watt was also voted Wisconsin’s MVP, first team All-Big Ten, Sports Illustrated and AP All-American second team, and the All-Big Ten academic team.
In 2011, J.J. Watt opted out of his senior year and entered the NFL Draft. At the yearly NFL Combine, he achieved top rankings in all categories, except the 40-yard dash. In late April 2011, the Houston Texans selected J.J. Watt as a first round pick, where he was the 11th pick overall. Houston signed J.J. Watt to an $11.24 million, four year contract in July 2011. In his opening season, J.J. Watt started all 16 games for the Texans and completed the season with 5 ½ sacks, 48 solo tackles, and 8 assisted tackles. In only two games, J.J. Watt completed 1 interception returned for a touchdown, 1 defensed pass, 4 sacks, 3 assisted tackles, and 11 solo tackles. He was named Texans’ Rookie of the Year, Pro-Football Weekly All-Rookie Team, and USA Today All-Joe Team.
J.J. Watt had one of the best seasons in NFL history for a defensive player in 2012. He completed the season with 2 fumble recoveries, 4 forced fumbles, 20 ½ sacks, 16 defensed passes, 12 assisted tackles, and 69 solo tackles. In September 2012, J.J. Watt was named the AFC Defensive Play of the month for the week of September 16th. In a game against Detroit, J.J. Watt broke the Texans’ record for sacks in one season with a 14 ½ sacks. After the playoffs, he completed the season 2.5 sacks less than single season sacks record set by Michael Strahan in 2001. J.J. Watt was later named to the 2013 NFL Pro-Bowl Team and received numerous recognitions such as the Texans’ MVP, PFW All-Pro First Team, Pro Football Weekly MVP, NFL 101 AFC Defensive Player of the Year, and the AP All-Pro First Team. Notably, he had the distinction of receiving 49 of 50 votes for the AP Defensive Player of the Year award. He was also the first Texans player to receive the NFL’s Player of the Year award.
Despite a poor 2013 season for the Texans, J.J. Watt completed 2 fumble recoveries, 4 forced fumbles, 10 ½ sacks, 7 defensed passes, 15 assisted tackles, and 65 solo tackles for the season. He was also picked for the 2014 NFL Pro-Bowl and was named the Pro-Bowl Captain. Before the 2014 season began, J.J. Watt agreed to $100 million, 6 year contract extension with the Texans. This contact makes him the highest paid non-quarterback in the NFL, basing this estimate on yearly average salary.
J.J. Watt had an outstanding 2014 season and was universally named to the 2014 All-Pro First Team as a defensive end and to the 2015 Pro Bowl. He again won the Defensive Player of the Year award, which makes him one of the few players in history to win the award multiple times.
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