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Connecticut

Dixon-Williams Playing Inspired for the Huskies

October 1st was greater than only a regular recreation for the protection Malik Dixon Williams.

The climate was a cool 63 levels in East Hartford. The stage was set for a difficult matchup towards the Fresno State Bulldogs through which the Huskies have been underdogs by 23 factors. It was to be considered one of the hardest assessments of the season for a UConn protection many had seen up thus far in the season towards opponents like Michigan and Syracuse. Not many gave the Huskies an opportunity, however for UConn’s redshirt defender sophomore, that doubt solely fueled him to provide an impressive efficiency on the day at Rentschler Field.

“I’m pretty sure a lot of people doubted us after going out without winning,” stated Dixon-Williams.

It was the crew’s Cancer Awareness recreation, and as a tribute to his late grandmother, Joan, Dixon-Williams proudly wore her identify on his wrist. With her identify on his wrist and a pink most cancers consciousness sticker on his helmet, he entered the fray together with his brothers and performed for greater than a win.

His relationship together with his grandmother is particular. He used her spirit to energy him in his development to the FBS degree. While Dixon-Williams was unable to satisfy her as a consequence of the demise of his grandmother when his mom was solely 10, he expressed his love for her via his love for his household and the recreation of soccer.

“Every day that I live and walk on this earth, I do it for her and she is my everything,” Dixon-Williams stated.

He performed proper via them that Saturday as he fueled considered one of the finest defensive performances of the UConn season. Every play was in her honor. When the last horn sounded in the afternoon, it not solely resulted in a Husky victory, however an eight-tackle efficiency. During the recreation, he felt nearer to his grandmother than ever.

“This big win was definitely a turning point for the defense and for UConn as a whole,” stated Dixon-Williams.

It was actually an enormous change in the season, as the program would go from a 1-4 file earlier than the win at Fresno State to a now-impressive 5-5 file earlier than the crew’s last dwelling recreation towards Liberty. A Saturday win secures bowl eligibility for the program for the first time since 2015.

Dixon-Williams’ pleasure this week would solely be continued by one other memorable occasion, a win in his dwelling state of Florida. This recreation could be a particular one for Florida-born Dixon-Williams, who grew up in Orlando and had a few of his closest household and pals in attendance. His girlfriend’s household, who had by no means seen him play reside, have been in a position to see him in motion for the first time. The similar household he performs for each snap noticed him assist anchor the UConn protection in a 33-12 win over FIU.

“Just having that fan base and that support, that’s huge,” stated Dixon-Williams.

From the begin he knew in his coronary heart that this was going to be a season he would always remember. The number one on the Dixon-Williams jersey is a superb illustration of this perception in the huskies. While he wore No. 31 in his first two years with the program, so was the coach’s angle Jim Morathe revitalization of the teaching employees and the common tradition shift surrounding the program pressured the UConn line of defense to have a brand new quantity.

“When Jim Mora I knew the program was going to change, and I knew that last year hadn’t gone the way I wanted it to. So I figured, since the revolution was here, I might as well be a part of that revolution and make a big change, so I changed my number to have a new identity,” stated Dixon-Williams.

This season, this new identification has paid off in his school profession. Dixon-Williams had an improved second season and with two video games remaining he already has 13 tackles greater than in 2021 and has been an skilled chief all season for a youthful core of hungry gamers who need success greater than ever. That sense of profitable was repeated again and again by Coach Mora and the complete constructing. Quoting the phrases of the late Jasper Howard was the finest recommendation coach Mora Dixon-Williams gave to speed up his success.

“Play every piece like it’s the last piece you’ll ever play,” Dixon-Williams stated. “We’ve got a lot of injuries, offense and defense so it hits really hard when he says it because you never know when the last game is going to be. I just go out there with the attitude that you never know when your last game is and just go hard.”

While many youthful gamers did not undergo the moments that Dixon-Williams has, he has shared the classes he realized from enjoying the recreation each day and even went again to excessive soccer in Florida.

“Cheer up. Football is a long game and you never know what’s going to happen. Anything can happen at any moment. Just go out there, chin up and keep fighting. After a bad game, just have that next-play mentality.” , Dixon-Williams says to his youthful Husky teammates.

When followers watch Dixon-Williams, whether or not in Saturday’s upcoming matchup towards Liberty or in a future matchup, they see a participant who not solely embodies the values ​​of the program, but in addition a participant who performs for extra than simply the recreation of Soccer. He performs for the household that raised him in Orlando. He performs for the coaches who believed in him. And he performs for his grandmother Joan, who accompanies him each time he takes the subject.

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