MADISON -- J.J. Watt, Houston Texans defensive end and former Wisconsin Badgers player will be back on campus at UW on May 11 -- not to play football -- but to deliver the spring commencement address before the Class of 2019! He talked about his preparation for the big speech in the May edition of the Wisconsin Alumni Association's "Thank you, 72" podcast and radio series -- and said he's not exactly planning on writing a speech.
According to a press release from the Wisconsin Alumni Association, Watt took some ribbing when he announced he didn’t plan to write a commencement speech as requested by the university.
“The most natural and real way for me to get my message across is to just speak,” Watt said in the podcast, according to the release. “At the end of the day, I want the students and I want the people in attendance to know this is coming from me. This is coming from my heart. These are things that I think are important.”
Watt attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison from 2008-10 and played for the Wisconsin Badgers.
“I can’t wait to get back to Camp Randall,” said Watt in February, when he was announced as the commencement speaker. “I’m so excited to see everybody there.”
Watt was born in Waukesha, Wisconsin, and graduated from Pewaukee High School. He gave up a football scholarship after one season at Central Michigan University, transferring to Wisconsin as a walk-on.
He's played for the Houston Texans for eight seasons after leaving school a year early and signing with the team as the No. 11 overall draft pick of 2011.
He was named Sports Illustrated co-Sportsperson of the Year and Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 2017 for his athletic accomplishments, coupled by his charitable efforts, including raising $37 million for Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas.
The "Thank you, 72" podcast and radio series celebrates outstanding UW alums from Wisconsin's 72 counties. It's available online HERE, on Apple iTunes and other podcast platforms.