Students at Wisconsin likely won’t be skipping their graduation ceremony this May. The Texans star defensive lineman J.J. Watt will be the commencement speaker for the University of Wisconsin-Madison 2019 spring graduating class, the school announced on Wednesday.
"We are so excited to invite J.J. Watt back to Camp Randall," senior class president Ronald Steinhoff said in the university's announcement. "His ability to lead, on and off the field, made him an easy choice. We can't wait to hear how J.J. Watt will send graduates out into a world that needs more Badgers who give back, just as he did."
The Pewaukee native transferred to Wisconsin from Central Michigan in 2008. After a redshirt year, Watt started all 26 games during his two seasons (2009-10) and finished with 11.5 sacks before earning a consensus All-Big Ten Conference first-team selection. Watt established his charitable foundation as an undergraduate at Wisconsin. Last year, Watt raised over $37 million for his Hurricane Harvey relief fund and was named the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year.
Despite an illustrious collegiate career and coming off his fifth AP First-Team All-Pro season, the three-time AP Defensive Player of the Year did have a small request for the Badgers.
“I’m not sure if the people organizing this know that I haven’t graduated yet, so I’m just saying if a diploma happened to slide my way, I wouldn’t be too upset,” Watt said. “But I’m so excited to see everybody. I can’t wait to get back up to Camp Randall and see you all so congratulations and we’ll see you soon. On Wisconsin!”
The eight-year veteran defensive end does have an honorary doctorate, one he received from Baylor College of Medicine last year for his charitable work. The UW-Madison graduation ceremony takes place Saturday, May 11 at Camp Randall Stadium.
Check out the best shots of DE J.J. Watt from the 2018 season.