This is one of those facts that has somehow slipped through the cracks of our consciousness for a good six years or so, and we're not sure if it had ever been printed in the Star Tribune until now: J.J. Watt, now a dynamite pass rusher with the Houston Texans -- who face the Vikings on Sunday -- was once committed to play for the Gophers. However ...


"I was committed to Central Michigan, then Brian Kelly left, so I committed to Minnesota. Then Glen Mason was relieved, so I ended up back at Central Michigan." Watt transferred to Wisconsin in 2008.

Watt had a couple of nice seasons in Badgers-land, became a first-round pick, and is now tied for the NFL sack lead with the 49ers Aldon Smith. They both have 19.5 and are in the hunt to break Michael Strahan/Brett Favre's single-season record of 22.5.

Would things have been different for Watt and the Gophers had Mason not been fired? Well, he played tight end at Central Michigan before transferring. There's no telling what role the Gophers would have found for him.

Still, it's one of those curious little what-if moments -- and will only continue to grow if a FORMER GOPHERS COMMIT ends up breaking the sack record.


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