One of the top in-state players in the 2011 recruiting class and one of the three talented in-state linebackers, Derek Watt has brought his hard working, tenacious style to the Wisconsin scout team.
If it wasn't for an injury to Eric Steffes, Watt would still be lifting weights in Pewaukee, waiting for his opportunity to enroll with the program in January.
In the return of our popular series for subscribers, Badger Nation does a meet and greet with the newer members of the Wisconsin football team, shedding a light on some of the unknown kids that figure to be important parts of the Badgers' future.
Asking 15 questions, we call this segment the Freshman Fifteen.
What's been the hardest part for you adjusting to college life?
Watt: Generic time management for the most part, which I guess includes football. You don't have a whole lot of time. You get a little bit of a break, maybe an hour or a little more depending on the day, before practice. You have study table after practice that takes up some of your night and then you go home and have homework. It's just a grind when you have time to do the things you need to do.
What's been the hardest part adjusting to college football?
Watt: Just the intensity. It's obviously a whole new level from high school. The guys you are going up against are the biggest adjustment I've had to make.
Since you arrived here, how have you changed your body to prepare for the college game?
Watt: I was just talking with one of the trainers and we had a summer competition where we split up the team into a bunch of smaller teams. There was a picture and I couldn't find myself on there. The trainer pointed me out and said, ‘Look how much you have changed since summer.' I've lost a lot of body fat and I am gaining good weight back now. I am up to 218 back now and gaining back muscle, which is what coach (Ben) Herbert wants and that's what I want. I've been losing the raw weight and gaining the right weight.
How is living in Madison different than your home town of Pewaukee? What's the biggest difference?
Watt: Just a lot more going on. There isn't a lot going on in Pewaukee, but it's a great little town and I go back home quite a bit. I went home two weekends ago for my little brother's playoff game. Me and Patrick Butrym were just talking about it. We played his old high school and we played them last year and lost but we took it to them this year. It's definitely nice being an hour away and be able to go home once in awhile. Just a lot more people, a lot more going on and I have a lot of good friends up here now.
What is your major?
Watt: I was originally on the path of business, but now I am going towards kinesiology as of now. That could very well change.
What are you hoping to do after college?
Watt: Not exactly. I'll figure it out sooner rather than later.
What's your favorite place on the Madison campus?
Watt: When we got meal vouchers, a lot of us like to go to Quaker Steak for some wings. Other than that, the terrace is the place to go in the summer, so I guess we have to find a new hot spot in the winter.
What's your least favorite place on campus?
Watt: I don't know if I have a least favorite. The dorms aren't too fun because you don't have a lot to do in the dorms other than watch TV and do homework.
What do you enjoy doing most in your free time when you get the chance to kick back and relax?
Watt: Well, my roommate is Joel Stave and when we get home from practice, we like to unwind. We have a mini basketball hoop set up in the room and we like to shoot hoops, joke around, watch some TV and just kind of relaxed because we are always constantly moving and moving. Once in awhile, take a nap to rejuvenate before practice and get my body ready.
How is that going with Stave?
Watt: It's great. Joel is a great guy, easy to live with and we just have a lot of fun together.
What's the most interesting thing you've learn about him since you starting living with him?
Watt: He doesn't like it when people find out because he likes them to be surprised, but he is a very musical guy. He likes to play the guitar and piano, and he's a great singer, I might add. He's got the trio of musical talents right there.
Where does your biggest support come from? Family? Friends? Teammates?
Watt: It's pretty much my family. My teammates are right there, as well, because I am around them so much and they are definitely supportive. My family is number one because they've been there for me the whole time and they have taught me so much and been supportive. J.J. and I don't talk quite as often because we are both busy, but we usually talk to each other after his game on Sunday night or Monday and we talk about the games and the week ahead. He's got his new house and he's finally getting all situated there.
What's your parents reaction to you playing college football here, being on your own for the first time and starting your journey at this school?
Watt: They are definitely very proud and they make it up to the games that they can. They travel to J.J.'s games once in awhile. They've been through it with J.J. and they are more than happy that I am here and doing good things. Hopefully next year, I will be out on the field on game days, but they are very proud of me right now.
It doesn't have to be football related, but what do you feel has been the greatest accomplishment of your life?
Watt: I think it's getting the scholarship to come here and getting to work with these guys every day. Hopefully I can one day be a leadership guy out here and getting reps on the other side of the ball.
What's the best part of being a Wisconsin football player and putting on that red and white jersey?
Watt: It means a lot. Growing up, I obviously loved watching the Badgers. My parents would come up to games and my mom saw me run out of the tunnel for the first time in the UNLV game in the uniform. It definitely was unreal and a great feeling to have. I've watched a lot of games here and never put on the jersey before. It definitely was a whole new experience and it was awesome. Hopefully, it's not going to be running out, warming up and standing on the sidelines. I am hopeful that my role changes in the future.