Speaking of atypical arrivals to Madison, how about J.J. Watt’s? A former tight end turned walk-on at Wisconsin became one of the most dominant defenders in program history and backed it up by having a Hall of Fame career in the NFL.
Watt’s time in Madison was during some of the formative years of the program we know today. He only participated in one of the three consecutive Rose Bowls, but he laid the foundation for the program to build on, which it did.
During that 2010 season, Wisconsin hosted top-ranked Ohio State under the lights. The Badgers came out hot and beat the Buckeyes up for most of the four quarters. Watt was all over the Ohio State backfield. He was credited with two sacks on the game, but it felt like he had 200.
Wisconsin went on to lose a heartbreaker in the Rose Bowl to TCU in what was Watt’s final game in Badger Red. He was drafted 11th overall by the Houston Texans after skyrocketing up draft boards during the pre-draft process.
His success in Madison and the NFL have done wonders for the program in many ways. He’s shown that hard work pays off, the dream is possible at Wisconsin, and the Badgers put legitimate talent in the league.