We’re getting closer to Christmas which means our top 10 Badger moments of 2014 countdown is nearing an end. Number six on the countdown puts a spotlight on some former Badgers who have had a pretty 2014 season in the NFL.
Before the 2014 season got underway, the NFL Draft saw five Wisconsin Badgers drafted, beginning with Dezmen Southward going in the third round to the Atlanta Falcons. Nine picks later, the San Francisco 49ers selected linebacker Chris Borland. The final day of the draft we saw three former Wisconsin players drafted, with James White going to New England in the fourth round. Jared Abbrederis stayed in the state as the Green Bay Packers in the fifth round. The last Badger selected in the 2014 draft was Beau Allen who went to the Philadelphia Eagles in the seventh round.
But we begin our spotlight on a few former Badgers before the NFL Draft took place. We start at MetLife Stadium with Super Bowl XLVIII and a former Wisconsin quarterback leading the Seattle Seahawks to the Lombardi Trophy.
Russell Wilson– Criticized for his height-or lack thereof-Wilson put a lot of the naysayers to shame by leading the Seahawks to a Super Bowl rout of Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. Wilson finished 18-of-25 for 206 yards and two touchdowns. If not for a dominant performance by the defense, Wilson possibly could have won the MVP award. He spread the ball around, connecting with eight different receivers that night and not turning the ball over once.
But he has carried over to the 2014 season the way he finished the 2013 season. In 14 games so far this season, Wilson has thrown for 2,897 yards and 18 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions. He has the Seahawks finishing the regular season strong and making a huge playoff push as the regular season winds down.
Chris Borland- The 49ers linebacker made a strong case for defensive rookie of the year before an ankle injury sidelined Borland for the final two games of the year. But he transitioned very nicely from the college game to the NFL game this season. Due to a toe injury that sidelined Patrick Willis, Borland saw himself in the starting lineup win week 7 and made the most of his opportunity. Borland had a huge three-game stretch in which he recorded 48 tackles and two interceptions. He will end his rookie year with 107 total tackles and two interceptions, but you haven’t heard the last of him. Borland will be a successful linebacker in the NFL for many years to come.
J.J. Watt– The Houston Texans superstar has been playing at a higher level than most this season. The Pewaukee, WI native and former Badger Watt has had a phenomenal 2014 season. Watt was named the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year award and there’s no doubt in my mind he will win the award again this season.
Watt is third in the league in sacks with 16.5, trailing only Elvis Dumervil and Justin Houston who both have 17. He’s forced three fumbles, has recovered a total of five fumbles and returned one for a touchdown. Watt also has one interception that he returned for an 80 yard touchdown. He’s recorded 64 total tackles thus far and has been a beast all over the gridiron.
But it’s not just limited to the defensive side of the ball. Watt has lined up at tight end a few times, hauling in all three of his receptions for touchdowns. He’s one of the most athletic players I have seen in the NFL and his work ethic is second to none. Same goes for his off the field work as well. I don’t know if there’s a player in the league that has done more with charity than Watt has. He truly is a role model that many kids can certainly look up to.
Top 10 Badger Moments of 2014 Countdown:
6. Ex Badgers Thrive in NFL