There’s been a ton of hype around 22-year-old outside linebacker T.J. Watt even before Pittsburgh took him 30th overall in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
The third Watt sibling to make it to the NFL, at 6’4 and 252-lbs, T.J. had a stellar college career, when he wasn't hampered by injuries. He recorded 59 total tackles and 11.5 sacks in the 2016 season with the Wisconsin Badgers. That first season in a starting role earned him a spot on the Associated Press All-American second-team and All-Big Ten Conference first-team, boosting his stock heading into the draft.
But according to Bob Labriola of Steelers.com, the brass in Pittsburgh have decided that experience will trump youth, at least in the first week of the season. Unfortunately for Watt, James Harrison seems to have found a fountain of youth that has so far made him indispensable to the Steelers.
It’s hard to believe that Harrison is still competing, and winning, against players almost half his age. At 39-years-old, Harrison has been in the league since 2002. That much experience, good health, and the ability to continue playing at the highest level, it’s hard to turn to anyone else besides the 6’0, 245-lbs veteran linebacker in Pittsburgh.
Especially when he’s passed so many recent PED tests, proving he’s still a legitimate dominating force.
According to Labriola, Harrison is the unquestioned starting outside linebacker for the Steelers, barring injury of course.
Speaking with Jill Beckman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Watt said of Harrison that “You know he’s the man around here. That’s how it is. I respect the heck out of him and everything that he’s done.”
Watt has been fortunate to have the opportunity to apprentice under Harrison, and is eager to make the most of the situation in Pittsburgh.
“They’ve been a [tough] defense for many, many years, and I think it’s so special to be a part of it,” Watt said. “Once you get in the building, you can kind of notice it and see why they’ve been so successful.”
Watt may yet get a chance to start for the Steelers in the upcoming season, but until then he’ll be learning as much as he can from the unstoppable force that is James Harrison.
Source: Bryan DeArdo - 247 Sports · Photo Credit: KEYSTONE PRESS