Defensive MVP – D’Cota Dixon
Senior safety D’Cota Dixon is off to a fabulous start to his final season in the Cardinal and White.
As expected, Dixon has been one of Wisconsin’s most reliable defensive players. He’s as sure a tackler as you will find on this squad, ranking second on the team in solo tackles and third in total tackles through five games, and his versatility to make plays in the box or back in coverage is immensely valuable to Defensive Coordinator Jim Leonhard. He has chipped in a forced fumble and an interception as well so far this season.
Dixon’s value to the team goes far beyond statistics, however. He is the heart and soul of this defense full of new starters, a team captain whose leadership on and off the field has been just as important to Wisconsin as his play. He has been a mentor to the young players on this unit, especially Scott Nelson, his running mate at safety on the first team defense. The redshirt freshman Nelson has performed well in his first few games as a starter, and if you ask him, he would likely credit much of his success to Dixon taking him under his wing.
Dixon is one of the easiest players on the team to root for, as he’s a fantastic young man who also happens to be a darn good football player. Look for him to continue to ball out the rest of the way as he puts the finishing touches on a special career in Madison.
Runner-up: Ryan Connelly
It was tough to not give Ryan Connelly the Defensive MVP nod. It may be more accurate to list he and Dixon as 1A and 1B for the honor.
Connelly is one of the most underrated linebackers in all of college football. He doesn’t usually get the fanfare that fellow inside ‘backer T.J. Edwards often does, but make no mistake, his rock-solid play has been crucial to Wisconsin’s success over the last couple seasons.
It is extremely rare to see Connelly miss a tackle or blow an assignment. He currently leads the team in both solo and total tackles and ranks second in tackles for loss behind Edwards. He also has a sack, one of only four players on the Wisconsin defense to achieve that feat so far this season.
Connelly is as reliable a linebacker as you will find across the country, as you know going into each game that, at the very least, you are probably going to get a solid, if not exceptional, performance from No. 43. Much like Dixon and his partner on the inside, Edwards, his senior leadership and consistent play has been a key factor in the success of the Wisconsin defense.