INDIANAPOLIS — The quickest route from one point to another is a straight line, but that’s not the road Wisconsin DE J.J. Watt traveled to reach the NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Watt began his career as a tight end at Central Michigan, but despite enjoying his time with the Chippewas, he believed a transfer to Wisconsin was the right move long-term.
“My transfer was an all-or-nothing situation where I wanted to play in the NFL and felt that going to Wisconsin gave me the best opportunity,” Watt said Saturday. “My parents supported that decision, and here I am today because of it.
“It definitely wouldn’t be happening if I hadn’t transferred.”
Making the transition from one school to another was just part of the process. Watt also switched sides of the ball just to earn a scholarship after paying for the year of school where he had to sit out because of transfer rules.
Before entering Wisconsin, Watt even spent the summer as a Pizza Hut delivery man to offset the lost scholarship.
“Coach (Bret) Bielema, when I asked him if I could walk-on, he said, ‘Sure, but we have no guarantees,'” Watt recalled. “I said, ‘What do I need to do to earn a scholarship,’ and he said, ‘You need to be on the two-deep (depth chart).’ I said, ‘I’ll be there by the end of my first year.’
“I played everywhere and ended up on the defensive line and loved it,” he added. “I relentlessly worked my tail off to earn a job and earn a scholarship, and it worked out.”
– Matt Florjancic, Special to NFL.com