The Watt lineage on the University of Wisconsin football team officially ended Tuesday morning, when T.J. Watt announced on Twitter he would declare for the NFL draft in April.
A day after Wisconsin’s 24-16 Cotton Bowl victory over previously undefeated Western Michigan, in which the redshirt junior outside linebacker recorded four tackles, a sack and forced a fumble, the youngest Watt brother decided to follow in the footsteps of older brothers J.J. and Derek by joining them in the professional ranks after collegiate careers at Wisconsin.
J.J. Watt currently plays for the Houston Texans and Derek Watt just finished his rookie season with the San Diego Chargers.
In declaring for the draft, T.J. Watt forfeits his final season of eligibility with the Badgers and leaves an even greater hole at outside linebacker, given Vince Biegel’s graduation.
2016 was a breakout season for Watt, who generated buzz during spring ball as a defensive playmaker. Watt entered the UW program as a tight end, but at the suggestion of head coach Paul Chryst, Watt switched to outside linebacker.
The move proved wise as Watt finished tied for 11th in the nation with 11.5 sacks and was third on the team in tackles (63). His 15.5 tackles-for-loss and 13 quarterback hits led UW.
Garret Dooley was already expected to be a starter at outside linebacker next season and he played several snaps per game throughout the season, filling in for Biegel against Michigan and Ohio State when Biegel was hurt. With the loss of Watt too, Zack Baun is the next man on the depth chart to assume the other starting role.