Pewaukee graduate J.J. Watt, who enjoyed a breakout season as a defensive lineman with the University of Wisconsin football team in 2010, announced Thursday that he was declaring for the NFL Draft.
Watt composed an open letter to Badgers fans on the school's athletic website detailing the circumstances of his decision.
Watt finished with a remarkable 21 tackles for loss during the 2010 season, with seven sacks, an interception, three forced fumbles and 62 total tackles -- tied for second on the Badgers. Wisconsin appeared in the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1999 season.
He was named recipient of the Lott IMPACT trophy, an award that recognizes character and other positive traits in addition to on-field accumen, and was named second team All-American by the Associated Press. He was also a consensus first team All-Big Ten performer and was named the team's co-MVP.
Out of Pewaukee, Watt spent one year as a tight end with Central Michigan before transferring to Wisconsin as a walk-on. After a redshirt season, Watt started all 13 games at defensive end in 2009 before emerging as one of the nation's top players at his position in 2010. Many draft prognosticators envision NFL teams selecting Watt in the mid to late first round.