As the countdown to the first Wisconsin football game of the season begins, Badger of Honor is taking a look at Badgers by the numbers, checking in on a different Badger or Badgers players who wore the number corresponding with the remaining days until the Badgers head to Texas to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide Saturday, Sept. 5.
First up in our countdown, signifying 99 days until college football is back, is defensive end JJ Watt.
Not many different Badgers have donned the number 99, but arguably none have done it better than JJ Watt.
From humble beginnings — a transfer tight end from Central Michigan who delivered pizzas to make enough money to go to school — Watt did nothing but work his tail off from the minute he stepped onto the field.
In his redshirt season in 2008 Watt earned defensive scout team player of the year honors, setting the stage for a big two years on the field for UW.
He started every game in 2009 and 2010, amassed 36.5 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, an interception and 14 passes defended.
At the end of his senior year he was named the Lott IMPACT Trophy winner, was an Associated Press and Sports Illustrated second-team All-American, a consensus first team All-Big Ten selection, and was named the team MVP.
Following college, Watt was the 11th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans, and has continued wreaking havoc on opposing offenses, and occasionally even defenses.
In four NFL seasons, Watt has totaled 57 sacks, 12 forced fumbles, 11 fumble recoveries, an interception, a pair of defensive touchdowns, 37 pass deflections, 62 stuffs and four blocked kicks. Add in there three receptions for three touchdowns, and he’s putting up prolific numbers in his young career.
He’s a two-time AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year and AFC Defensive Player of the Year, he was the 2014 NFL MVP runner-up to Aaron Rodgers, he’s a three-time Pro-Bowler, a three-time First Team All-Pro, and consistently is ranked in the top 10 of the best players in the NFL in various rankings.
He’s quickly putting together one of the best NFL careers of any former Wisconsin Badgers players, and is building himself a Hall of Fame resume.
Other notable No. 99’s:
• LB Rick Graf, at UW 1983-86, in the NFL 1987-93.
First to wear No. 99:
• Thomas Haughian, Center, 1937.
Who wears 99 now?
Redshirt senior defensive end James Adeyanju currently wears No. 99 for the Badgers. Adeyanju is also a former UW defensive scout team player of the year, and is looking to have an increased role for the Badgers this season.
Stay tuned to Badger of Honor as we continue our daily countdown in preparation of the season opener against Alabama.
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