College coaches wanted to make J.J. Watt an OT

Getty Images

J.J. Watt has become one of the dominant defensive linemen in the NFL.

But if his coaches at Central Michigan would have had their way, he’d be playing offense.

According to 49ers left tackle Joe Staley, the Chippewas wanted to convert Watt from tight end to tackle, which led to him walking away from a scholarship en route to Wisconsin.

“They missed out,” Staley said, via Alex Marvez of FoxSports.com. “They were like, ‘We’re going to move you to tackle now,’ and he was like, ‘Nah.’ I think he wanted a little more glory than what the tackle position offers so he moved and made himself into a hell of a player.”

The move worked for Staley, who became a first-round pick in 2007. That year, the CMU coaches tried moving Watt, but he resisted, leading to a pizza delivery job that covered his bills while he walked on at Wisconsin.

That made it reasonable to ask Staley if he’d have fared as well.

“I think so,” he said. “I’d be a dominant defensive player. I’d be in the mold of him and [49ers defensive end] Justin Smith.

“I’m kidding. I’ve never played defense in my life.”

And Watt is playing like few in the NFL at the moment.