HOUSTON -- J.J. Watt was prepared for his May 11 commencement address at the University of Wisconsin. Or at least he thought he was.
Then he was asked to send a copy of his speech when he was done writing it.
"I said, 'What do you mean?'" Watt said. "'I don't write speeches. I'm just going to go up there and talk.'
"That was my full plan. I did not know that you had to write it all out. I'm dead serious. I didn't know. He was like, 'They have a teleprompter for you. What do you want on it?'
"I said, 'Nothing. Just give me a black screen and tell me when to stop talking.' That was literally my plan. But I found out you have to write some stuff down. So I have about a month to figure it out."
The Houston Texans defensive end started his college career at Central Michigan but transferred to Wisconsin as a walk-on in 2008. He played for the Badgers for two seasons, and although Watt did not graduate from Wisconsin because he declared early for the NFL draft in 2011, he said he knows what everyone actually wants from a commencement speaker.
"I mean, I have some messages I want to say," Watt said. "I have some things I want to get across. But let's be honest: They just want to go drink beer afterwards. They're excited. I know how commencements go. They just want the person to give a cool message for about five minutes, and then get off the stage."
Watt said he isn't nervous about speaking in front of the crowd, saying he's "really excited about that."
"I get to go back to Wisconsin [and] Camp Randall [Stadium]," Watt said. "I never graduated, so I get to see what graduation looks like. It's an honor. It's such a true honor.
"I grew up 45 minutes from Camp Randall, so being invited to go back [and] have the opportunity to go back to a school and a team that I watched growing up and idolized, walked on and eventually got a scholarship from [and] now to be able to speak at their commencement, it's an unbelievable honor. I take it very seriously. Even though I said I wasn't going to write a speech, I take it very seriously. I'm humbled."