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T.J. Watt recaps journey to the Pittsburgh Steelers

Watt meets the Pittsburgh media.

Pittsburgh Steelers first-round pick T.J. Watt holds first press conference (PennLive.com/YouTube)

The Pittsburgh Steelers introduced outside linebacker T.J. Watt on Friday after selecting him with the 30th overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night.

After a brief conference call right after the selection, Watt flew into Steelers Nation the next day and met with the media in person.

“Obviously, we are excited to have him,” Steelers president Art Rooney II said at the beginning of the press conference. “He comes from a football family, as you all know, which is exciting to have him be a part of the Steelers’ family. He also comes from a college program we are very familiar with, the college coaching staff we are very familiar with, which helped us in the evaluation process. T.J., obviously had a great year last year. He is still learning his position, but we are excited to have him come here, help him develop here and have him contribute here.”

After Rooney introduced Watt, the All-American and consensus first-team Big-Ten selection thanked the Steelers president, general manager Kevin Colbert, and head coach Mike Tomlin for drafting him.

“It is my job now to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers and to work my butt off each and every single day for this organization,” Watt said. “I truly mean that from the bottom of my heart. This means the world to me, but this is just the beginning. I promise to put everything I have into this organization and to work with my teammates, and to be under the tutelage of these guys, just be on the ‘Stairway to Seven.’ We are here to win a Super Bowl. I feel like I can help this team win games.”

Here are some of the highlights from the Friday afternoon press conference. All transcriptions are provided courtesy of the Steelers.

Initially being known as J.J.’s little brother

“I would say in the high school years it was a little harder for me, a little more difficult, because I didn’t know how to handle it. As I grew older and matured more, I kind of saw it as more of an asset than a liability. Just to be able to gain knowledge from someone that is so good at football, and to see the background information and background work that no one else gets to see, to see what goes on behind the scenes that makes him so successful, has definitely helped me along the journey.”

The trip he took with his brothers to Europe

“That trip was really cool. I think the most special part about that trip was just spending time with my two brothers for 15 straight days, and to truly bond and grow as brothers. It wasn’t always football, but we definitely did find time to work out when we were in Rome and all throughout Europe. I think it just shows that it’s the type of people we are. It doesn’t matter if we are on vacation. It doesn’t matter if I got drafted yesterday. I am going to work my butt off regardless of circumstances. That’s just how my family works.”

The transition from tight end to linebacker

“I think early on the transition was a little more difficulty to me, because everything was new. But a lot of stuff came naturally for me, like pass rush and stopping the run. I feel like I did a great job, and I feel like I have a lot more to learn. I feel like whether you are a first-year guy or a 15-year guy, there is always room to work on your craft. That is why I am so excited about getting to work with these gentlemen over here, to just keep getting better.”

Taking 12 hours to make the decision to switch to defense when asked

“Just tried to see what gave me the best chance to try to get to the spot where I am right now. I think I just kind of learned about the mentality of being on defense, being a ball-hawk and getting after the ball, and being able to be a playmaker on every single play as an outside linebacker. It was really intriguing to me. I feel like once I made the switch, it was the best decision I ever made.”

Film Breakdown: Scouting T.J. Watt & Vince Biegel Before the NFL Draft (Wisconsin Badgers/YouTube)

Having two knee surgeries and how that played a part in his relationship with his brothers

“I think, if anything, it grew stronger, because they were kind of feeling for me with what I was going through. I think as they went through their injuries on their own, later on, it kind of helped our relationship as well, because I was able to help them through their injuries.”

Having the same exact injury on both knees

“I knew after having both that it was susceptible to happen again if I didn’t have the surgery. I think it’s just the way I was born, just the way my knees are. Thankfully the doctors were able to fix my knees up, and they have been fine.”

Having those injuries and if that made him question playing

“No. I think maybe it might have crept into the back of my mind after the second injury. But I truly think this is what I was born to do. And I have believed that since a really young age. I am at this point now. I can’t wait to keep going.”

Overcoming adversity

“I would say once I had my second knee injury, it was probably when I decided to take football really seriously. I have been treating myself like a professional athlete in college. I finally realized how important the game is to me, because it had been taken away twice. I truly love the process of football. I am not just a gamer. I love practice. I love working out. I love all the little details of football. I think being injured and sitting out for an extended period of time really taught me the values.”

His greatest strength as a pass rusher

“I think just tenacity. A lot of sacks are just relentlessly getting after the passer. You will see guys winning on the first move, but it’s just being tenacious, getting after the passer and not giving up on a play. I feel like that’s something I do really well.”

His early college career and if it was frustrating

“I don’t think so. I think it’s the attitude that you bring to work every day, really, sets the tone for how you’re going to learn. I think that’s what I carry with me, just a positive attitude. And I’m going to be the hardest worker there is, just because I have an opportunity to play in the National Football League now. And there, I had an opportunity to get on the field as a Wisconsin Badger, which was the coolest thing in the world to me. And you can’t have a down day. I think you just have to realize it’s not going to come overnight, but you just have to keep eating away at it day after day, and it will come.”

The Steelers long line of great linebackers

“It definitely does [put a smile on his face]. To be a part of a group that has such a great tradition, and guys who are here today still playing football, flying around and making hits, playing Steelers football, my type of football, is awesome to be a part of it. I can’t say it enough, but I cannot wait to get out there and start working with those guys.”

Being his own man

“I think this is finally the next step for me. Just being in the National Football League, being with my own organization and totally be separate from my brothers. Obviously, the name is always going to be with me, but I feel like now this is one step forward to making plays and making a name for myself. Obviously, I love my brothers to death. It’s something we can’t control. I’ll always be attached to them. But I’m here to bring my hard work and dedication every single day and to be my own person. And just work my butt off.”

His weight and conditioning plan

“To get as conditioned as possible. And just see where the coaches want me at, weight-wise. But the biggest thing I can do is to come into camp conditioned and take as many plays as I can.”

His LSU game

“I expected to perform the way I did. I had a really good spring ball going into the season. Against LSU, I feel like there were a bunch of plays I missed, just like a lot of the games throughout the season. But it felt like it put me on the map a little bit. If anything, it kind of brought more attention to me and created better matchups.”

If he and his brothers wanted to be in the NFL as kids

“I think it was definitely a dream, but it was never one we thought would be reached. As we grew older and we saw J.J. do it, it became more of an expectation almost. Because you see how much hard work is put into it and you realize a kid from Pewaukee (Wisconsin) can make it. I see the work and I know what it takes, that’s why I take this so seriously day after day. And I just take it one day at a time to get here. Yeah, it’s great to be here, but I’m not satisfied at all to just be here. I’m chasing greatness, and that’s what I’m here for.”