|DALLAS (FWAA) – Wisconsin safety
Dixon is the winner of the 2017 Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage
Award. Dixon, a 5-foot-10, 204-pound redshirt junior, overcame an
unstable family situation and personal health issues to post his
second straight all-Big Ten season for the 12-1 Badgers.
always had to face trials and tribulations in some form or matter,"
Dixon said in a UWBadgers.com video feature in October. "Though
I had relatives and family that were close, and I knew they loved
me – I know they always meant the best and loved me — but I felt
like nothing was ever stable. I felt like it was always somebody
Dixon had a brother convicted of attempted murder, and he was
placed in foster care as his mother struggled to provide for the
Dixon's father and his father's girlfriend, Beth Coston, took
Dixon and another brother in. But as Dixon's father's drug addiction
grew intense, Coston assumed guardianship and moved the brothers
"I didn't really know my dad but I knew who he was, but I never
had a true relationship with him, even when I was in Miami," Dixon
said. "But I had comfort in my mom. She loved us very much. She
had a manic depression illness, so there would be times where she
wasn't home. It was just real tough when we got taken from her,
but by the grace of God it was a blessing in disguise because I
do have a mother named Beth who I love very much. That's my sweetheart."
Dixon later repaired his relationship with his father, but his
father passed away. Dixon and Coston were then evicted from their
home during Dixon's senior year of high school. Dixon's girlfriend,
Grace, and her mother took Dixon in.
"The time that I had with him, that solid probably from seventh
grade to ninth grade, was the best years ever," Dixon said. "So
it just hit me. It hurt me so much when he died my freshman year
in high school, and really for me I felt like it was like: Here
we go again. I was kind of just real numb and just real angry.
"I didn't go to school for like two weeks. I was real mad, just
In the spring of 2016, Dixon spent a week in the hospital with
a life-threatening infection that left him in pain and unable to
walk. He recovered in time to start the season opener, which he
punctuated with an interception with 57 seconds left to seal a win
against No. 5 LSU. Dixon started all 14 games for the Badgers, who
went 11-3 and won the Cotton Bowl.
He recorded 60 tackles, four interceptions and four pass break-ups
en route to third-team All-Big Ten honors, in addition to Academic
All-Big Ten honors.
Dixon picked up where he left off in 2017, fighting through a
hamstring injury to play in 10 games, start eight and earn first-team
All-Big Ten honors from the league's coaches. (He was named second-team
all-conference by the media.) He tallied 52 tackles, including 3.5
for loss and 1.5 sacks, to go with one interception, three breakups,
one hurry and one forced fumble. He posted a game-best 12 tackles
in a Sept. 30 win against Northwestern in the Big Ten opener, including
a safety in the final minute to help preserve the victory – a victory
that ended up being the deciding factor in the Big Ten West race.
Dixon was again an Academic All-Big Ten honoree, and the No.
6 Badgers ran the regular-season table before the Big Ten title
game. They entered bowl season with the nation's No. 1 defense (253.2
yards per game).
"This is a tremendous honor for D'Cota," Wisconsin coach Paul
Chryst said. "I really admire the way he approaches and appreciates
life. With what he has gone through, for him to have such a positive
outlook and be so willing to help others is a real testament to
his character and his faith. He is intent on maximizing all of his
opportunities. The best thing I can say about D'Cota is that if
you spend any amount of time around him, he makes you want to be
a better person, because of how he carries himself and his genuine
care for others."
Though Dixon had eventually moved with his brother and Coston
to Oak Hill, Florida, he is a South Florida native. And he will
be returning to the area for the Badgers' finale, as they take on
No. 11 Miami on Dec. 30 in the Capital One Orange Bowl.
"I feel like my hardships and trials have built me to who I am
today and I'm proud of them," Dixon said. "I wouldn't take nothing
back. I wouldn't change one thing, not one single event that ever
happened in my life. I'm grateful for them, in all honesty."
The Courage Award was first presented by the Football Writers
Association of America (FWAA) in 2002. A select group of writers
from the FWAA vote on the winner each year. The requirements for
nomination include displaying courage on or off the field, including
overcoming an injury or physical handicap, preventing a disaster
or living through hardship. James Conner will be included in festivities
during Capital One Orange Bowl week and receive his trophy at an
on-field presentation during the Capital One Orange Bowl game between
No. 6 Michigan and No. 11 Florida State on Dec. 30.
Previous winners of the Capital One Orange Bowl-FWAA Courage
Award are Pittsburgh running back James Conner (2016), Miami offensive
lineman Hunter Knighton (2015), Duke offensive lineman Laken Tomlinson
(2014), San Jose State defensive lineman Anthony Larceval (2013),
Clemson wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez (2012), Michigan State offensive
lineman Arthur Ray Jr. (2011), Rutgers defensive tackle Eric LeGrand
(2010), the University of Connecticut football team (2009), Tulsa's
Wilson Holloway (2008), Navy's Zerbin Singleton (2007), Clemson's
Ray Ray McElrathbey (2006), the Tulane football team (2005), Memphis'
Haracio Colen (2004), San Jose State's Neil Parry (2003) and Toledo's
William Bratton (2002).
About the Orange Bowl
The Orange Bowl is
a 360-member, primarily-volunteer non-profit sports organization
that promotes and serves the South Florida community. With its primary
mission since being created in 1935 to bring tourism to South Florida
through an annual football game and events, it has also maintained
a legacy of charitable contributions and community outreach. Orange
Bowl community outreach efforts are comprised of four pillars: youth
sports, fundraising and community events, academic programs and
scholarships, and legacy gifts. The Orange Bowl features a year-round
schedule of events culminating with the Capital One Orange Bowl
on December 30, 2017. For more information on the 2017-18 Orange
Bowl events, including promotional and volunteer opportunities through
the Ambassador Program presented by Panera Bread, log on to
Follow Orange Bowl:
Founded in 1941, the Football Writers Association of America consists of 1,400 men and women who cover college football.
The membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key
executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas
that include game-day operations, major awards and its annual All-America team.
For more information about the FWAA and its award programs, contact Steve Richardson