Jan. 6, 2011
MADISON, Wis. -- Defensive end J.J. Watt announced Thursday he will forgo his final season of college eligibility and enter the NFL draft. Watt was named the 2010 Lott IMPACT Trophy winner, earned second-team All-America honors and was a consensus first-team All-Big Ten selection after leading the Badgers and ranking third in the country with 21.0 tackles for loss this season.
Watt announced his decision in an open letter to UW fans.
Open Letter to Badger Fans:
First and foremost, I would like to say that my time at the University of Wisconsin has been unbelievable and it has far surpassed anything that I ever could have imagined. I would also like to thank Coach Bielema and the entire coaching staff for giving me the opportunity to play for my home-state team, as well as helping me to succeed both in the classroom and on the field at the highest level possible.
This has, without a doubt, been one of the most difficult decisions of my life, and it is one that was not reached quickly, or easily. At this time, I have made the decision to enter the 2011 NFL Draft. It has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember to play in the National Football League, and through hard work and dedication, that dream finally has a chance to become a reality.
I will be a Wisconsin Badger for life and am forever grateful for all of the love and support that the fans, administration and community have shown to my family and I during my time in Madison. I could not have asked for better coaches to play for, better teammates to play alongside, or a better fan base to represent throughout my collegiate career.
I just want to say thank you again to everyone who has helped me to reach this point in my life, as I would not be here today if it wasn’t for an unbelievable amount of support from my family, friends, teachers, coaches and teammates. While I am closing an extremely enjoyable chapter of my life, I am also beginning a new chapter and am very much looking forward to the new challenges that lie ahead.
As I move forward with my life, I will continue to live by the morals and values that have helped to get me where I am today. I am very excited about the opportunities that lie ahead for both myself and for the JJ Watt Foundation, as we try to spread the message to kids that if you “Dream Big and Work Hard,” anything is possible.
- JJ Watt
Wisconsin head coach Bret Bielema on Watt’s decision:
“I talked with multiple people connected with NFL teams on J.J.’s behalf to make sure he had the best information to make an informed decision and one that he was comfortable with. He is a terrific example of what we want our student-athletes to be, both on and off the field, and he will be missed. I wish him nothing but the best and I know he will be successful in his future endeavors.”