MADISON - Sophomore running back John Clay, sophomore defensive end J.J. Watt and junior wide receiver David Gilreath were all named Big Ten Players of the Week after Wisconsin’s 51-10 victory over Hawaii on Saturday.
Clay, who shares the honor with Illinois running back Mikel LeShoure, matched a career high with three rushing touchdowns and posted 172 yards on 24 carries to lead Wisconsin. The sophomore running back posted his fifth straight game of 100 yards or more on the ground and now has eight 100-yard efforts this season and 11 for his career. Clay produced 111 rushing yards in the first half alone, including touchdown runs of two and three yards. He tacked on a 15-yard scoring run in the third quarter to push the Badgers ahead 34-3 before sitting out most of the fourth quarter.
The Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year ended the regular season with a Big Ten-best 1,396 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns.
Clay earns his second weekly accolade this season and for his career after being honored on Oct. 4, 2009.
Watt earned his first weekly award after he racked up six tackles and 3.0 tackles for loss, including a pair of sacks in the Badgers’ win. The sophomore defensive end pushed the Hawaii offense back 10 yards with his three tackles for loss, including nine yards on his two sacks, and all six of his defensive stops were solo tackles.
The Warriors entered the game ranked third in the country with 348.7 passing yards per game, but were held to a season-low 197 passing yards thanks in part to a season-high six sacks by the Wisconsin defense. Watt helped the Badgers limit their ninth straight opponent to less than 100 yards rushing, holding the Warriors to only 17 yards on the ground, the fewest rushing yards allowed by the team this season.
Gilreath produced 102 total return yards at Hawaii, including 94 yards on two kickoff returns to equal the Big Ten and Wisconsin career record for kickoff returns. The junior wideout now has 106 kickoff returns in his career, to tie former Badger Brandon Williams and Michigan State’s Derrick Mason for the conference record. Gilreath also has 2,326 career kickoff return yards to rank third in Big Ten history, just 250 yards from breaking Mason’s conference mark of 2,575 yards set from 1993-96.
Gilreath accounted for 169 all-purpose yards against the Warriors, including 54 receiving yards, 13 rushing yards, 94 kickoff return yards and eight punt return yards. He now has 4,045 career all-purpose yards, becoming just the sixth Badger to break the 4,000-yard barrier.
Gilreath’s 43- and 51-yard kickoff returns marked the team’s longest returns this season and his longest since a 55-yarder against Michigan on Sept. 27, 2008. He also added an eight-yard touchdown run in the victory. Gilreath collects special teams accolades for the third straight season after being honored on Nov. 10, 2008, and Sept. 17, 2007.
The last time the UW had players win Offensive, Defensive and Special Teams Players of the Week in the same week came back in 2005, when John Stocco (Offensive), Dontez Sanders (Defensive) and Taylor Mehlhaff (Special Teams) accomplished the feat after Wisconsin beat Hawaii, 41-24.