Wisconsin Badgers safety D’Cota Dixon took home the Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year Award earlier this week, given annually to the college football player who has best demonstrated leadership through exceptional courage, integrity and sportsmanship. A team captain last year, Dixon was selected over Auburn’s Derrick Brown and Kansas State’s Dalton Risner, the other two finalists.
“I wasn’t expecting to win, honestly,” Dixon said with a laugh after he accepted the award from Witten, the former Dallas Cowboy.
"Love can really have the power to transform and shape us as people"
— Wisconsin Football (@BadgerFootball) February 13, 2019
Dixon, one of eight Badgers who have declared for April’s NFL Draft, shared a little in his acceptance speech about the incredible hardships he overcame as a youth. He was born into abject poverty near Miami by a mother who faced a severe mental illness, and his father was not present in his life. Eventually, Dixon and his older brother were taken and placed in the foster care system.
If anyone had the right to be angry with the world, it was Dixon. And that’s just what he became. That is, until Dixon encountered the transformative love and power of Jesus.
“Most importantly, I thank Jesus Christ,” Dixon said from behind the podium as he concluded his acceptance speech. “None of us would be here if it wasn’t for Christ. All glory be to God.”
Instead of being bitter about his difficult early years, Dixon now counts it as pure joy, as it says in the Bible in James 1:2. He credits the suffering in his life with building the hope in God he has now, and he also credits it with producing in him the personal character that earned him the Collegiate Man of the Year Award.
“(Dixon) has set himself apart as a true leader on his team, on campus and in the community,” Witten said. “He is the perfect example of someone who has devoted himself to becoming the very best person he can be, despite going through great personal struggles.”
Tuesday night was a time to acknowledge Dixon’s off-the-field strength. On the football field, Dixon’s strength has been on display for years. Dixon amassed 176 tackles and five interceptions in 44 career games during his time in Madison. He made the switch from cornerback to safety after his freshman season and started at that position for three years. Despite being undersized at 5-foot-10 and 198 pounds, Dixon is beloved by his teammates and coaches for his leadership ability, effort and physicality.
Dixon will add a natural leader to the locker room of whatever NFL team he joins after the draft in a couple months, and he will carry with him an inspiring story of utter brokenness to complete hope in Christ.
“It is unimaginable,” Dixon said in his video, “the things love can do.”
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