How a small town kid became the Badgers MVP - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

How a small town kid became the Badgers MVP

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MADISON, Wis. (WKOW) --   When it comes to forcing turnovers, no one on the Badgers defense has been better than senior Leo Musso, who leads the team in interceptions. This past month, Musso was selected by coaches and the players as this year's MVP - a worthy title for a hometown kid who has come so far.

"He's Wisconsin born and bred, " Badgers senior linebacker Vince Biegel says, "He wasn't the most highly recruited guy, but guess what? He came here and worked."    

His best friend and roommate, junior safety D'Cota Dixon, couldn't agree more.

"He doesn't only make plays on the field to get the deserving award as the MVP but he also makes guys good around him."

"You know that means more to me than anything, " Leo said, smiling from ear to ear, "Being a great teammate means a lot and it's just very special."

Musso wasn't always known as the Badgers Most Valuable Player, but rather a small town kid with big dreams. 

Just 12 miles away from Camp Randall Stadium is a tiny town called Waunakee.  It was here at the local high school that the former running back ran for more than 5,500 yards scoring 87 touchdowns. But standing at 5'9", 185 pounds, big time college programs had a hard time looking past his smaller stature. 

"The thing when I would visit college games, it's like, I know I could play with those guys. Knew so more than anything that I just needed an opportunity."

And a week before signing day, that opportunity finally came calling at the University of Wisconsin. From the start, Musso knew he would be carrying the load in the backfield and coaches promptly threw him into their defensive drills.

Musso had never played a single snap on defense in his entire football career.

"I made sure that, I was gonna try to get past that learning curve. be studying every night. Get ahead mentally more so than physically."  

For his first three season, injuries kept him strapped on the sidelines, leaving him one final chance to make a lasting impression. 

And Musso came through with flying colors.

Starting every game at safety, Musso was a crucial part in  the Badgers defense, helping Wisconsin claim the Big Ten West title and lock in a spot in the Cotton Bowl.

And on January 2, Musso will put on the Badger uniform one final time. 

"You don't really try to think about the future too much. You just try to cherish every single moment that you have left. You know, it wasn't for me. It was for everybody else. My friends, my family, the little kids that maybe look up to us. That's really how I hope they remember me. Just a guy that loved this university."

Wisconsin will face unbeaten Western Michigan in the 2016 Cotton Bowl on Jan. 2. Kickoff in Dallas is set for noon (CT).

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