J.J. Watt: “I’ve spent the last two months recovering back in Wisconsin.”

Photo: Jeffrey Beall

J.J. Watt quickly became someone to take notice of as a walk-on at the University of Wisconsin. His career started in 2009 at Madison where he was named second-team-All-American, All-Big Ten first-team, academic All-Big Ten by Sports Illustrated. In 2010, he earned the Ronnie Lott Trophy as a standout defensive end.

In the 2011 NFL draft, Watt was the 11th pick by the Texans.

His older brother, Derek Watt is a fullback for the San Diego Chargers and his younger brother, T.J. Watt is a linebacker for the University of Wisconsin Badgers.

Watt enjoyed a stellar career in college with little injury but his professional career hasn’t been so forgiving. Last season, Watt faced a staph infection, a broken hand, torn abs, torn adductor muscles, and multiple herniated discs.

Headed back home to Wisconsin on a plane to recover, Watt penned a thoughtful piece on The Player’s Tribune, on his career and everything he has had to overcome, questioning his future in the NFL.

The Player’s Tribune reports:

We were about to land at Waukesha County Airport, and I sat up for just a second to catch a glimpse of my hometown from the sky.

They had made a bed for me on the plane because after my surgery, I wasn’t supposed to be in a seated position for long periods of time.

As the wheels touched down, I remember thinking, Man, I needed this.

Waiting there at terminal for me was Mr. Keefe, husband of the legendary Mrs. Keefe, my fourth grade teacher. I wasn’t allowed to drive, and my hometown isn’t exactly an Uber hotbed, so Mr. Keefe picked me up no questions asked.

It was the beginning of this fall. Normally, I never get to be home in the fall. The leaves were changing. The air was crisp. The nostalgia came over me. As we drove through my hometown, I thought about everything that had happened over the past year.

For more on Watt’s future, visit The Player’s Tribune