SIGNING DAY: Alma QB Jackson Daily to walk on at Missouri

Alma's Jackson Daily is seen, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023, during the River Valley Fall Sports Media Day in Fort Smith. Visit rivervalleydemocratgazette.com/photo for today's photo gallery. (River Valley Democrat-Gazette/Caleb Grieger)
Alma's Jackson Daily is seen, Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023, during the River Valley Fall Sports Media Day in Fort Smith. Visit rivervalleydemocratgazette.com/photo for today's photo gallery. (River Valley Democrat-Gazette/Caleb Grieger)

ALMA -- Jackson Daily approached Alma football coach Rusty Bush last year about contributing to the school's 2023 football team.

He did more than that.

With the help of first-year quarterback coach Payton Morris, Daily threw for 1,308 yards and 10 touchdowns, along with his 818 yards on the ground, and accounted for 31 touchdowns while leading Alma to its first seven-win season since 2017.

Daily also accounted for 2,517 total offensive yards (passing and running). He might have finished higher than seventh all-time had Dardanelle not forfeited its game with Alma last season.

"Football's a very hard thing, but it's also very rewarding," Bush said. "All those practices, all those early mornings, here is the reward today. I think it's extremely important for all of our football players and those in other sports ... It's about leaving a legacy.

"We will continue to be good in our football program, and we will continue to win football games because of guys like Jackson Daily."

Now, the clock starts over for Daily, who has been invited to participate in the University of Missouri's football program as a preferred walk-on.

"I just want to contribute to the team the best way I can," Daily said. "I want to make myself better."

"The preferred walk-on is about a guy betting on himself, and that applies to Jackson," Bush said. "To be able to go to that Top 10 program in the Southeastern Conference and to be able to play for a great football coach (Alma native Eli Drinkwitz), it's all him.

It may not happen overnight, but Daily is willing to put in the work while earning his degree from one of the elite Southeastern Conference academic schools.

"You just have to grind it out and leave the rest to God," he said. "If you have faith in him, everything else will take care of itself."

Daily said he was touched by the overwhelming support of his classmates who showed up in droves for Wednesday's signing.

"The support from a fanbase like this means a lot," he said. "To come from Alma, and go to a Division I SEC program, it means the world to me."

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