As a kid, Derek Watt and his brothers T.J. and J.J. would play football with their two neighbors, utilizing three full backyards to create a field as close to a real gridiron as possible. Oftentimes, the Watt brothers would play catch or games of 500 with their dad or uncle throwing the pigskin. “We had some little mini pad sets, like any kid does, we were out there doing one-on-one stuff, T.J. and I,” Watt said. “I don’t remember if we ever went up against J.J. That was a little jump for us.”
Years later, all three brothers would step on the hallowed grounds of Camp Randall, continuing the tradition of Wisconsin football.
Watt, a redshirt senior fullback, has blocked for some of the best Badger running backs in recent history, specifically Melvin Gordon and Montee Ball. He highlighted his favorite Badger memories as being a part of some record-breaking moments, like Gordon’s 408-yard rushing performance last year against Nebraska or Ball’s single-season FBS record-breaking touchdown.
Individually, his favorite moment came when he scored his first touchdown donning the Cardinal and White two years ago at home against Northwestern. He snagged a three-yard pass from quarterback Joel Stave in the fourth quarter to put the exclamation point on a decisive 35-6 victory over the Wildcats
“I was just happy I caught it,” Watt said. “It was a big moment, it was awesome. My phone was blowing up after that game. [There’s] no better feeling.”
In high school, Watt was a three-sport athlete, playing football, track and baseball. He played each sport all four years, save for baseball which he gave up his senior season because he came to Madison in the summer for football. Watt, who said he misses playing baseball in the summer, was a shortstop and second baseman, playing varsity all three years and hitting .400 his freshman year.
While he never thought about playing at the collegiate level, he said that J.J. had the most baseball talent of the three and could throw about 88 mph off the mound.
“He was a tall, lanky guy. He played only until he was a sophomore, so he was a little bit smaller, but he could whip that,” said Watt.
Watt also was an avid hockey player growing up, learning to skate when he was just two years old. He played on a couple of travel teams as a center or a forward and often lit the lamp. Today, he still continues to play when he can for recreation, which includes skating with former Badger and current Anaheim Ducks winger Nic Kerdiles.
“He was back here this summer and we went up to LaBahn and skated a little bit. It was a blast,” Watt said.
Off the field, Watt enjoys relaxing with his roommates. While sitting around and watching football in their apartment, they turn on their recently purchased fireplace and light candles to make it more homey.
The Badgers return to Camp Randall this weekend to take on Purdue. Watt will look to continue making plays out of the backfield, as well as blocking for the running backs against a subpar Boilermaker team.