In 2008, current Houston Texan defensive end J.J. Watt had a Chinese family symbol tattooed on his upper left chest. Underneath it were the permanent initials of J.J., D.J. and T.J.
Three years later, Derek Watt - "D.J." - thought his brother had a great idea and followed suit with the same inking.
, the youngest of the three Watt brothers, plans to get the identical marking.
Needless to say, these Watt brothers are tightly bonded and immensely football talented.
T.J., a 6-foot-4, 200-pound junior tight end at Pewaukee (Wis.)
High School, announced last month he has committed to the University of Wisconsin, the same place Derek (D.J.) is a redshirt freshman and where J.J. starred.
None of it surprised their dad, John Watt. Even the tattoo.
"When J.J. approached us with that idea, we thought, if he's going to have a tattoo, that's about as good as it could get to have him feel that way about his brothers," John Watt said. "That just goes to show you that they're always thinking about each other, they always have each other on their mind."
The three brothers, although six years apart in age, are extremely close and family is very important.
T.J. made an oral commitment to the Badgers on April 1. J.J. spent two phenomenal seasons (2008-09) on the Madison campus and was the 11th overall selection in the 2011 NFL draft by the Houston Texans.
The Watts were at the airport that early April day getting ready to board a plane to go on a family cruise when T.J. received a call from one of the Wisconsin football coaches offering a scholarship.
"It took T.J. all of about five minutes (to decide) once he got off the phone," John said. "He just looked at Connie (his mom) and I and we talked about it. We said, ‘Well, hasn't it always been your dream to be Badger?' And he kind of just gave us that look like, ‘You know what? It really is.' "Drawn to Madison
T.J. said he did not make his decision to attend Wisconsin because his brothers played there. He was drawn to the Badgers' coaching staff and the atmosphere in Madison.
"Having both brothers to either play or have played at Wisconsin is a special thing, but it did not greatly effect my decision to play there," T.J. said. "But being around the campus a lot and being in the stadium for almost every home game did play a role in my decision."
Out of high school, J.J. signed with Central Michigan and played one season before transferring to Wisconsin. J.J. was pretty excited when T.J. decided to join the Badgers football fraternity.
"It means a lot because it shows what can be accomplished with hard work and dedication," J.J. said. "Having the opportunity to play football at the Division I level is extremely difficult, and for all three of us to get that opportunity is very exciting."
Derek, who was unable to make any comments about his brother committing to Wisconsin per NCAA rules, originally committed to Northwestern out of high school before following J.J. footsteps in going to Wisconsin.
"I think that my experience at Wisconsin obviously helped to sway my brothers' decisions a little bit because they got to see first hand how great that the University of Wisconsin can be," J.J. said. "They got to come to my games and see how unbelievable the fan support is and they got to hear stories from me about my time in Madison and how much I enjoyed it."
Come fall 2013, T.J. will be reunited with Derek on the football field, this time at a whole different level.
"It will be very special," T.J. said. "There is no other feeling than knowing that you are on the same field and on the same team, this time in the Big Ten."Glory days
J.J. and Derek each had standout high school careers on the gridiron. T.J. still has a season left of high school ball to vault himself to his brothers' status.
"I would say all three on the field, they may play different positions, but they all have tremendous football instincts," said former Pewaukee football coach Clay Iverson, who coached all three Watts. "As far as skill set goes, you can call it what you want, but they're similar in their mental toughness and the way they attack."
As a senior at Pewaukee, located just outside Milwaukee, J.J. registered 77 tackles (22 1/2 for loss), seven fumble recoveries and four forced fumbles. He played defensive end for the Badgers before starring at the same position in the NFL.
Derek, who graduated in 2010, was a beast in high school on both sides of the ball, amassing 2,685 yards and 44 touchdowns rushing on offense and 140 tackles (27 for loss), 6 1/2 sacks and three interceptions on defense. He is playing linebacker at Wisconsin.
The Watts didn't know if T.J. would have the opportunity to even get an offer from the Badgers. After his sophomore season, T.J. grew about four inches and filled out his football frame. He also improved on the field and dedicated himself to the weight room.
T.J. finished his junior campaign with 27 catches for 505 yards and three touchdowns. The Badgers liked his progress and upside and recruited him to play tight end.
"After his junior year it was kind of like, ‘OK, he's going to get opportunities somewhere,' whether it's Wisconsin or not, we couldn't be sure," John said. "Obviously with his lineage, he's going to get opportunities that some other kids might not get because of his last name. But I think the thing we're most proud with T.J., and in a good kind of way, is he did have to work to get offers - it wasn't just handed to him because of his last name."
There's going to be even more pressure when T.J. goes to Madison to live up to the Watt name. However, T.J.'s had to deal with pressure his entire high school career.
"My brothers and I have had the same last name all our lives," J.J. said. "They have experienced situations in their lives already where people thought they might be under pressure to live up to the ‘Watt name' and they have exceeded everyone's expectations. They understand what comes with putting on a jersey that says ‘Watt' on the back and they embrace it."Traveling the country
Iverson gives T.J. a tremendous amount of credit for making a name for himself in high school football after his two brothers succeeded before him.
"He could have easily gone a different direction," Iverson said. "It wasn't easy, but he stuck with it and stuck with it. I know there were days that were frustrating for him and his parents did a good job with it and we tried to do the best we could with it as a coaching staff. But in the end, T.J., I think, developed a tremendous amount of mental toughness. The other part of it too is the brothers do a great job of not putting that kind of pressure on T.J."
Come football season, all the pressure might fall on the brothers' parents. John and Connie will have busy weekends trying to attend all of their sons' games at three different levels.
"We got a little taste of it last year with leaving right after T.J.'s games Friday nights to try to get up to Madison for the Saturday morning games when they were home and then busting right out of there and getting down to Houston for Sundays," John said.
Some day, the Watt parents might be even busier, having to travel to three NFL cities every Sunday.
"If it works out that way, that would be absolutely fantastic," John said. "If nothing else, J.J. made it to the NFL and Derek and T.J. will be getting a great education at UW."