T.J. Watt and Joe Schobert were born in the same county of Waukesha in Wisconsin, less than a year apart. Watt was born, the youngest of three brothers, in the town of Pewaukee in October of 1994. Schobert was born in Waukesha in November of 1993. Both would grow up and attend high school in their respective cities before converging at the University of Wisconsin—where the pecking order was clear.
“I always tell people he was my backup in college”, Schobert, who played on the edge in college, said of Watt on Wednesday. “I taught him one move—the chop dip. I never see him use the chop dip. He has his own things and he’s taken it way farther than I ever took it at outside linebacker. It’s good to be back with him, though. He’s a fun guy to be around”.
Schobert came out a year earlier, drafted to play inside linebacker by the Cleveland Browns in 2016. By that point, Watt was rounding out his transition from tight end to a full-time defender, where he would advance enough in a year for the Steelers to feel good about drafting him 31st overall in 2017.
The fifth-year edge rusher has spent most practices on the periphery this offseason as his representatives and the front office try to hammer out the finer points of a very robust contract extension. He practiced fully for the first time on Wednesday as the team prepares for its season opener on Sunday against Buffalo. Schobert has no concerns about his former backup’s preparedness.
“T.J. is a professional. I train with him in the offseason back at Waukesha sometimes”, he said. “He takes his job extremely seriously, so no matter what, wherever you want to play him, put him in a parking lot, he’s gonna be ready to play a football game”.
“If he’s on the football field, he’s gonna make a lot of plays and he’s gonna be good for our defense”, he continued. “He plays the game with a lot of energy, a lot of passion. If he’s out on the field, he’s going to be doing that for as long as he plays”.
Watt has been a finalist for the Defensive Player of the Year Award each of the past two years, and has been to the Pro Bowl for three years running. He became just the second Steeler to lead the league in sacks in a single season last year, finishing the season with 15 in 15 games.
He’ll no doubt be looking to break the franchise single-season sack record this year (officially of 16), shortly after breaking the bank with his new contract extension.