Beating Big Brothers

His older brother may be in the NFL making millions and his second oldest brother may be on full scholarship with the two-time Big Ten champions, but there is one thing Pewaukee (Wis) tight end T.J. Watt can boast his brothers can't - he's been offered two big-time scholarships before the start of spring.

MADISON - When it comes to football, it's turning into the family business for the three sons of John and Connie Watt.

Their eldest son, J.J. Watt, was a second-team All-American at Wisconsin, lettering in 2009 and 2010 and a first round draft pick of Houston in the 2011 NFL Draft The middle son, Derek Watt, just finished his redshirt season for the Badgers and will be using spring practices to battle for the only one starting linebacker spot.

But while the accolades of both J.J. and Derek are impressive, they have nothing on their young brother, Pewaukee (Wis.) tight end T.J. Watt.

After posting 27 catches for 505 yards and three touchdowns his junior season, Watt – 6-4, 200 pounds - has picked up scholarship offers from Minnesota and Northern Illinois, getting his big-time offers well before his older brothers started reeling in opportunities.

"They didn't get offered this early, and they have been real supportive," Watt told Badger Nation about his brothers. "It was pretty big. Minnesota had been talking to me quite a bit, but it was still a surprise."

Watt received his Northern Illinois offer last weekend when he spent time on the Huskies' campus getting shown around by head coach Dave Doeren, who coached J.J. for two seasons and helped recruit Derek.

"Coach Doeren is a great guy," said Watt. "He's real straight up, tell you how it is and he doesn't hide anything. I just like Northern Illinois a lot. I like the weight room a lot to be honest and I like the coaches. We just got to hang out and see how life would be like down there."

Watt's first visit of the spring recruiting period was to Wisconsin for the school's junior day last month. Although he had been to the school dozens of times, Watt was treated to some new features, like getting a tour of the team's meeting rooms, which he hadn't seen before. More importantly, he was treated like everyone else.

"At Wisconsin, it was a little different because they know me, but they treated me like every other recruit and didn't signal me out because of my brother's successes, which I liked," said Watt. "It was nice getting to know the coaches from a recruiting standpoint."

With Wisconsin having limited scholarships, the Badgers have treaded carefully when extending scholarships offers. With UW looking for one tight end in the 2013 recruiting class and Pittsburgh tight end Scott Orndoff likely heading elsewhere, UW coach Bret Bielema told Watt that the tight end UW goes after this year will likely emerge during its camp.

"They are going to wait until camp to see who the better tight end is and I respect that to be honest with you," said Watt. "That makes me want to work that much harder."

In addition to Minnesota, Northern Illinois and Wisconsin, Watt went to Michigan State's junior day (and toured the campus and went to a basketball game with MSU running back commit and Beaver Dam native R.J. Shelton) and has been getting interest from Central Michigan. He plans to visit all those schools again during spring practices.

When it comes to following in his brother's footsteps or blazing a new path in college, Watt is in the best situation possible – having two knowledgeable older brothers that are willing to help him find the best spot … no matter where it is.

"I am just going through the process open minded, looking at what everyone has to offer and my brothers have been helping me a lot," said Watt. "They aren't pressuring me a lot in any way. They would obviously like to see him go to Wisconsin, but they aren't going to push me."

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