MADISON - Even as signed national letters of intent come through the fax machine, Wisconsin head coach Gary Andersen and the Badgers control to remake, retool and reboot a secondary with athletic, speedy, skilled playmakers.
Choosing the Badgers over finalists Michigan State and West Virginia, New Smyrna Beach (FL) High defensive back D'Cota Dixon announced his commitment to the Badgers the morning of Wednesday's national signing day at his school.
Dixon is the seventh Florida native to commit to the Badgers, including the last four prospects, the fifth defensive back and the 26th commit in the 2014 class. In addition to saying no to his other two finalists, the 5-11, 190-pound Dixon also had offers from Arkansas, Cincinnati, Louisville, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Purdue, South Florida, UCF and Vanderbilt.
"He's a kid who has always known what he's wanted and worked hard for it," said Lance Jenkins, Dixon's high school coach. "Wisconsin is a real good fit for him."
Being offered by defensive coordinator Dave Aranda in the summer, Dixon's official visit to Wisconsin tipped the scales in favor of the Badgers. Having never seen snow and only leaving his home state twice prior to his senior year, Dixon got along well the players, the coaching staff and was impressed with the facilities on his Jan.17 visit. A day after he flew home, the Wisconsin coaches followed for an in-home visit.
He visited West Virginia last weekend and while the visit was good, it didn't sway him from Wisconsin.
"We educate our guys pretty well and tell them to take all their visits before making a decision," said Jenkins. "It's a program (Wisconsin) where he felt he fit, enjoyed and liked being around. The academics mean a lot to him."
Dixon, whose older brother, Daryl, played at Florida and whose younger broker, Dexter, plays for Mount Union, a perennial Division 3 national content, in Ohio, played both running back and defensive back for the Barracudas, positions he's started at for the past three years. He'll likely start out at safety for UW.
"The biggest compliment I get from friends of mine in the coaching community is he's the best 48-minute player they've ever seen," said Jenkins. "He does not come off the field. He's a tough kid. He's a very intelligent kid. He's got a 3.9 GPA. He's a very hard worker. He's self motivated. I mean, anybody with a 3.9 GPA is going to be self motivated."
Not only is Dixon fast, he's strong, testing at 350 pounds on the bench and the power cling while registering 500 pounds on the squat. He's also tough. According to Jenkins, he played the last year-and-a-half with a torn labrum in his shoulder.
"His shoulder would come out once a game and they would pop it back in," said Jenkins. "He's a workaholic. He's a weight room junkie. He's just a great football player."
Dixon is a three-star prospect who is ranked the No.134 safety in the country by Scout.com.