T. J. Watt

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T. J. Watt
refer to caption
Watt in 2019
No. 90 – Pittsburgh Steelers
Position:Outside linebacker
Personal information
Born: (1994-10-11) October 11, 1994 (age 25)
Pewaukee, Wisconsin
Height:6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight:252 lb (114 kg)
Career information
High school:Pewaukee
(Pewaukee, Wisconsin)
NFL Draft:2017 / Round: 1 / Pick: 30
Career history
Roster status:Active
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics as of Week 1, 2020
Total tackles:178
Pass deflections:20
Forced fumbles:15
Fumble recoveries:4
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Trent Jordan "T. J." Watt (born October 11, 1994) is an American football outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at the University of Wisconsin, and was drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. His older brothers are J. J. Watt of the Houston Texans and Steelers teammate Derek Watt.[1][2]

College career[edit]

Coming out of Pewaukee High School, Watt was rated as a three-star recruit by various recruiting services.[3]

Watt started his collegiate career as a tight end recruit for the Wisconsin Badgers.[4] Watt's knee was injured in the 2014 season and he was in the recovery process until the middle of the 2015 season.[5] He did not play a game from October 2012 to September 2015.[6]

In July 2015, Watt was asked by head coach Paul Chryst to switch to a defensive position as a redshirt sophomore.[4] Badgers' outside linebackers coach Tim Tibesar recalled Watt's position change saying, "At that time, even though he was in his third fall at Wisconsin, it was kind of like having a freshman come in. You're trying to teach him for the first time how to play outside 'backer in our system."[7] After the fourth game of his junior season, he led the Big Ten conference in sacks.[4] In the Michigan State game, he was named the Big Ten Player of the Week and was given the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week Award.[4]

During the 2016 season, Watt recorded 59 total tackles and 11.5 sacks.[8] Additionally, he recorded an interception and a defensive touchdown during the Badgers' game against Purdue.[9] Watt also received first team All-American honors by Sports Illustrated and second team honors by The Associated Press for his play during the 2016 season.[10] On November 29, 2016, Watt was named First Team All-Big Ten.[11] On January 3, 2017, Watt announced on Twitter that he would forgo his senior season and enter the 2017 NFL Draft.


Wisconsin Badgers
Year Team GP Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
Comb Total Ast Sack Int Yards Avg TD PD FF FR
2015 Wisconsin 8 7 3 4 0.0 0 0 0.0 0 2 0 0
2016 Wisconsin 14 63 38 25 11.5 1 17 17.0 1 4 2 1
Career 22 70 41 29 11.5 1 17 17.0 1 6 2 1

Professional career[edit]

Watt received an invitation to the NFL Combine as one of the top edge rushers in the draft and completed all the combine drills. Among linebackers, Watt finished second in the vertical jump and three-cone drill, tied for first in the broad jump (with Jabrill Peppers), and also tied for first in the short shuttle.[12] He attended Wisconsin's pro day, along with Dare Ogunbowale, Vince Biegel, Corey Clement, Sojourn Shelton, and six other teammates.[13] Green Bay Packers' General Manager Ted Thompson and Pittsburgh Steelers' head coach Mike Tomlin were among the 65 team representatives and scouts present for his pro day as Pittsburgh Steelers' linebacker's coach Joey Porter, Carolina Panthers' and New York Jets' outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene led Watt's positional drills. The majority of NFL draft experts and analysts projected Watt to be a late first round or second round pick . He was ranked the second best outside linebacker in the draft by NFLDraftScout.com, ranked the fourth best outside linebacker by NFL analyst Bucky Brooks, and was ranked the ninth best edge rusher by Sports Illustrated.[14][15] ESPN also ranked Watt the 44th best prospect available in the draft.[16]

External video
T.J. Watt’s NFL Combine Workout
T.J. Watt runs the 40-yard dash in 4.69 seconds
Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand size 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20-yard shuttle Three-cone drill Vertical jump Broad jump Bench press
6 ft 4 12 in
(1.94 m)
252 lb
(114 kg)
33 18 in
(0.84 m)
11 in
(0.28 m)
4.69 s 1.59 s 2.71 s 4.13 s 6.79 s 37 in
(0.94 m)
10 ft 8 in
(3.25 m)
21 reps
All values from NFL Combine[17][18]


The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Watt in the first round (30th overall) of the 2017 NFL Draft.[19] Watt was the fourth linebacker selected and the second outside linebacker.[20] He was also the fourth linebacker taken in the first round by the Pittsburgh Steelers since 2013.[21]

External video
Steelers draft T.J. Watt 30th overall
NFL Draft Profile: T.J. Watt

On June 14, 2017, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed Watt to a fully guaranteed, four-year, $9.25 million contract with a signing bonus of $4.87 million.[22][23][24]

He entered training camp competing with James Harrison for the starting right outside linebacker position. Watt was named the Pittsburgh Steelers' starting right outside linebacker to begin the regular season.[25] Watt saw action in the NFL for the first time in the team's first preseason game against the New York Giants, where he made two sacks in the 20–12 victory.[26]

External video
T.J. Watt Week 1 Highlights
Top 10 T.J. Watt plays of 2017
T.J. Watt puts game in ice with last second strip sack

Watt made his professional regular season debut and first career start in the Pittsburgh Steelers' season-opener against the Cleveland Browns on September 10, 2017, where he recorded seven combined tackles, two sacks, and one interception, which came off of quarterback DeShone Kizer, as the Steelers won by a score of 21–18. He recorded his first career sack, tackle, and interception during the game and returned the interception for 17-yards.[27] He became the first rookie to start at linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers since Aaron Jones in 1988.[28] The following week, he assisted on two tackles before leaving during the first half of the Steelers' 26–9 victory over the Minnesota Vikings with a groin injury. He was declared out for Week 3 against the Chicago Bears.[29] On October 22, 2017, Watt made six combined tackles and made his fourth sack of the season on Cincinnati Bengals' quarterback Andy Dalton during the Steelers' 29–14 victory.[30] He tied Bud Dupree (2014) and LaMarr Woodley (2007) for the franchise record for most sacks by a rookie with his fourth.[31] Watt finished his rookie season with 54 combined tackles (40 solo), seven pass deflections, seven sacks, and an interception in 15 games and 15 starts.[32]

The Pittsburgh Steelers finished atop the AFC North with a 13-3 record and earned a playoff berth. On January 14, 2018, Watt started his first career playoff game and recorded two combined tackles and deflected a pass in the 45-42 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the AFC Divisional Round.[33]


Watt entered training camp slated as a starting outside linebacker. Head coach Mike Tomlin named Watt and Bud Dupree the starting outside linebackers to begin the season, alongside inside linebackers Vince Williams and Jon Bostic.[34]

External video
T.J. watt strip sacks Ryan and Fort recovers for TD
Top 5 T.J. Watt plays vs. Browns in Week 1

Watt started in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ season-opener at the Cleveland Browns and recorded a season-high ten combined tackles (seven solo), three sacks, and blocked a potential game-winning field goal during overtime in a 21-21 tie. He earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance.[35] On October 7, 2018, Watt recorded eight combined tackles, tied his season-high of three sacks, and forced a fumble in the Steelers’ 41-17 win against the Atlanta Falcons. His performance earned him his second AFC Defensive Player of the Week award of the year.[36] He started in all 16 games in 2018 and recorded 68 combined tackles (50 solo), 13 sacks, six forced fumbles, and three pass deflections.[32] He received an overall grade of 75.8 from Pro Football Focus in 2018, which ranked as the 24th highest grade among all qualifying edge defenders.[37]. After the season, Watt was ranked #93 on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2019.


Watt alongside Calais Campbell and Jurrell Casey at the 2020 Pro Bowl

In week 2 against the Seattle Seahawks, Watt recorded 6 tackles and made his first sack of the season on Russell Wilson in the 26–28 loss.[38] In week 3 against the San Francisco 49ers, Watt recorded his first interception of the season off Jimmy Garoppolo in the 24–20 loss.[39] In week 8 against the Miami Dolphins, Watt recorded two sacks on Ryan Fitzpatrick, one of which was a strip sack that he forced and recovered, in the 27–14 win.[40] In week 14 against the Arizona Cardinals, Watt recorded his second interception of the season in the endzone off a pass thrown by Kyler Murray during the 23–17 win.[41]

By the end of his third season, Watt had established himself as one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL, tallying an AFC-high 14.5 sacks and a league-high 8 forced fumbles. He was voted Team MVP by his teammates, being the first defensive player to win the award since Troy Polamalu in 2010. Watt was voted All-Pro as both edge rusher (1st Team) and linebacker (2nd Team). He was also nominated for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award, finishing third in voting.[42]. Following the season, Watt was ranked #25 on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2020.


On March 17, 2020, the Steelers signed Watt’s older brother Derek, putting the two brothers on the same team.[43] On April 28, 2020, the Steelers exercised the fifth-year option on Watt's contract.[44]

In Week 1 against the New York Giants, Watt recorded his first interception of the season off a pass thrown by Daniel Jones during the 26–16 win.[45]

NFL statistics[edit]

Led the league
Bold Career high
NFL career statistics
Year Team Games Tackles Interceptions Fumbles
GP GS Solo Ast Total Sack TFL QBHits Int Yards Avg TD PD FF FR Yds TD
2017 PIT 15 15 40 14 54 7.0 10 13 1 17 17.0 0 7 1 0 0 0
2018 PIT 16 16 50 18 68 13.0 12 21 0 0 0.0 0 3 6 0 0 0
2019 PIT 16 16 35 20 55 14.5 14 36 2 7 3.5 0 8 8 4 0 0
Career 47 47 125 52 177 34.5 36 70 3 24 8.0 0 18 15 4 0 0

Personal life[edit]

Watt was raised by his parents, Connie and John Watt, in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. His father was a firefighter for 25 years and his mother is the vice president of an independent inspections company. His two older brothers, J.J. and Derek, both played at Wisconsin and are both currently playing in the NFL.[46] Derek is a fullback for the Pittsburgh Steelers and was selected in the sixth round (198th overall) in the 2016 NFL Draft. J.J. is a five-time Pro Bowl defensive end for the Houston Texans and was selected in the first round (11th overall) in the 2011 NFL Draft. T.J. was teammates with Derek at Wisconsin from 2012-2015. Also during his time at Wisconsin, Watt majored in retailing and consumer behavior.[47]


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External links[edit]