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Bielema on Watt: “Unbelievable determination”

Posted by Nick Scurfield on May 11, 2011 – 3:22 pm

As the head coach at Wisconsin, Bret Bielema watched J.J. Watt go from a walk-on, scout-team player in 2008 to an All-American defensive end and the 11th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Bielema was kind enough to join HoustonTexans.com for a phone interview about Watt, as well as Badgers-turned-Texans Owen Daniels and Garrett Graham. The complete interview will be the first in a series of podcasts with the college coaches of (hopefully) each of the Texans’ eight 2011 draft picks.

Bielema has been the head coach at Wisconsin since 2006, compiling a 49-16 record. He was the Badgers’ defensive coordinator from 2004-05 after stints at Kansas State and Iowa.

Here are few tidbits on Watt from the Wisconsin head coach:

On Watt’s tenacity: “The great thing about him is he’s a better player in the fourth quarter than he is in the first. He’ll get to know his opponent, he’ll know that he’s breaking them down, he’ll know that he’s mentally tougher than them, and that’s when you see him actually rise to the top.”

On memories of Watt as a scout-team player: “He used to frustrate our offensive line routinely. Get in little scraps, little fights. I think him and Gabe (Carimi, 2011 first-round pick to the Chicago Bears) got in a couple fights along the way… But you did see a guy that had relentless effort. J.J. came up to me shortly into the first week of spring drills and he said, ‘Coach, what do I need to do to earn a scholarship?’ I said, ‘Well, you need to be in significant playing time or in a role as a starter,’ and he looked at me and he goes, ‘I’ll have one by the end of the spring.’ And he did.”

On Watt’s potential: “He’s only played competitive D-line for a redshirt year that he couldn’t play and then two falls. So his potential is off the charts, because he’s big, he’s athletic, he’s got unbelievable determination… How far this kid has come in such a short amount of time, he could be twice the player in a short amount of time than the Texans drafted. So it’s really kinda spooky.”

On comparisons to Howie Long and Aaron Kampman: “I grew up watching Howie Long, and I could see where people some would address that same comparison. I did work hands-on with Aaron Kampman (at Iowa)…  I don’t mean this to upset Aaron, but J.J.’s got more ability as a defensive lineman than Aaron. But both of them share that same mentality that you’re never going to beat them. You’ve got to kill them before you’re going to beat them. They will never give up.”

Check out the full interview with Bielema on our Podcast Central page.


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One Response to “Bielema on Watt: “Unbelievable determination””

  1. By Brian on May 11, 2011 | Reply

    I’m ready for my #99 JJ WATTTTTT Jersey!

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