The Pittsburgh Steelers made Wisconsin linebacker T.J. Watt their first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and he has not taken long to impress.
The 6-foot-4, 252-pound rookie dominated during the preseason and made team history in his NFL debut against the Cleveland Browns while posting 2 sacks and an interception.
That performance earned Watt NFL Defensive Rookie of the Week honors.
2 Sacks ✌️
1 interception ☝️
— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) September 10, 2017
Here’s everything you need to know about Pittsburgh’s bright new pass rusher.
Who is T.J. Watt? 5 things to know about the Steelers linebacker
1. You may have heard of T.J. Watt’s brother. And maybe his other brother, too.
In case their nearly identical names weren’t enough of a clue, T.J. Watt is the little brother of Houston Texans star J.J. Watt. There’s also the middle child, Derek, who plays fullback and was taken by the then-San Diego Chargers in the sixth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
All three Watts attended Pewaukee High School in Wisconsin as well as the University of Wisconsin and are now playing in the NFL despite never being rated as more than a 3-star recruit in high school. Clearly, there’s something in this family that makes football second nature.
2. T.J. Watt had a historically productive debut with the Steelers.
The Steelers have existed since 1933 and have featured some of the greatest defensive players in the history of the game. But none had a debut like T.J. Watt’s. The rookie posted 7 tackles, 2 sacks and an interception against the Browns in his first career game.
Watt is the first Steelers player to record a sack and an interception in his first career game. In fact, his line was so good, it eclipsed even what J.J. has done in a game.
T.J. Watt: 2.0 sacks, 1 INT in his first game
J.J. Watt has never had 2+ sacks and an INT in a single NFL game (89 games, inc. playoffs)
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) September 10, 2017
3. T.J. Watt was a tight end when he first joined Wisconsin.
Like his older brother, T.J. Watt began his college career as a tight end. However, a severe right knee injury knocked him out for an entire season and a left knee injury claimed his spring the following year. After multiple surgeries, Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst asked him if he wanted to move to linebacker. Watt made the decision, with a little help from his brother.
“And J.J., he’s like, ‘Come on, man, you’ve got all the tools to be successful.’I don’t know. He might have convinced me a little bit.”
T.J. Watt on moving to defense
4. It didn’t take much time for T.J. Watt to become one of the Big Ten’s top defenders.
T.J. Watt saw some sporadic action during his sophomore year, but everything clicked during his junior season. Replacing All-American Joe Schobert, Watt posted 63 tackles, 11.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. He also recorded a J.J.-esque pick-6 that was one of the highlights of Wisconsin’s season.
Not sure if TJ Watt or JJ Watt pic.twitter.com/iKWyYId4aq
— SB Nation GIF (@SBNationGIF) November 19, 2016
Those numbers earned him All-America honors and a first-round selection in the NFL draft. Not bad for a guy who has played defense at a serious level for two years.
5. He might be the strongest Watt brother.
As if being great at football wasn’t enough for the Watt family, their trophy case from competing in high school track could put most families to shame. Their event of choice? The shot put.
All three brothers won state titles and posted eye-popping long shots, with J.J. throwing 59-11 1/4, Derek throwing 57-5 and T.J. beating both with a school-record 60-2.
While J.J. almost certainly still holds bragging rights in football, T.J. might well be coming for him in that sport, too.