Senior Spotlight: Wisconsin Football’s Derek Watt


There’s no doubt that J.J. Watt is a household name not just in the state of Wisconsin but in the country as well. He’s the top NFL player of 2015 according to many and the reigning and defending defensive player of the year. But there’s another Watt trying to follow in big brother’s footsteps. Wisconsin Badgers fullback Derek Watt is looking to make a big footprint his senior year in Madison.

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Watt was a three-star recruit coming out of Pewaukee High School, being primarily recruited as an outside linebacker. In his senior season at Pewaukee, Watt ran for 1,506 yards and 25 touchdowns as well as recording 80 tackles and two sacks. He was named the AP Wisconsin Player of the Year and was also a second-team USA Today All-American team.

Wisconsin Badgers
Wisconsin Badgers /

Wisconsin Badgers

Taking a redshirt his first year at Madison in 2011, Watt would see plenty of action on both sides of the ball during the 2012 season. He would end up catching 12 balls for 150 yards and started the season playing at linebacker, recording 13 total tackles on the year. Watt was also the one who helped open plenty of holes for running back Montee Ball, including on Ball’s record-setting 79th career touchdown.

The 2013 season would see Watt’s production take a step back. He played in 12 games, starting five of those but did not have the receptions he did the year ago. Watt only carried the ball once and only hauled in three receptions for 20 yards. But it was this season that would see Watt record his first-career touchdown, a three yard reception on October 12 against Northwestern. Once again, Watt was utilized well at fullback leading the way for the one-two punch of James White and Melvin Gordon.

In 2014 Watt would start four games while playing in just eight while missing five straight games after suffering a broken foot against LSU. In those five games with Watt out of the lineup, Wisconsin would see their run production dip slightly to 6.4 yards per carry. With Watt in the mix the Badgers averaged 6.6 yards per carry and against a couple of the toughest run defenses, Watt helped lead a Wisconsin charge as they averaged 9.2 yards per carry against Auburn and Nebraska.

So what does 2015 have in store for Watt? Besides being an obvious lead blocker for Corey Clement, it looks as though head coach Paul Chryst might use him as another receiving option for Joel Stave. Chryst can use Watt in a variety of ways on offense. He can either catch passes out of the backfield, be split out as a receiver or even line up as a tight end. As long as Watt can stay healthy all season, he could become a receiving threat in the red zone as well as becoming more integrated in the run game as the Badgers have just one major running threat in Clement.

Watt has the potential to become a viable x-factor for Wisconsin’s offense. He’s versatile to be put in numerous spots and talented enough to succeed wherever Chryst decides to put him. Watt’s senior season should be his most productive in his career with the Badgers.

Next: Senior Spotlight: Alex Erickson

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