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Jackson quarterback Adrian Fox signs with SEMO football

Jackson football senior quarterback Adrian Fox officially signed a national letter of intent with Southeast Missouri State last month. Fox led the Indians to win a sixth-straight SEMO North Conference Championship and finish with an overall record of 10-2. Adrian is pictured with his parents Jim and Rose Fox. Photo by Nick McNeal

While his final season of high school football personally came to an abrupt end in the Class 6 District 1 semifinals this fall, Jackson senior quarterback Adrian Fox’s career is far from over.

Fox, who suffered a season-ending injury in what was a 41-13 win over Lindbergh back on Nov. 3, officially signed with Southeast Missouri State’s football team as a preferred walk-on last month.

“Definitely turning the page to the next chapter, and I want to thank my family and all the coaches that have helped me,” Fox said. “I wouldn’t be where I am without them. … I want to thank the SEMO coaches for giving me the opportunity to play at the next level.

“I talked to them a little bit during the summer, but it wasn’t until during the season they reached out and expressed interest. I was pumped whenever they did because SEMO is where my heart has always lain being from around here. Always as a kid, I dreamed about playing for SEMO. I’m blessed to have the opportunity.”

While being a PWO means that no athletic aid will be offered to him in his freshman season, signing with the Redhawks as one means that Adrian still has a secured roster spot with a strong chance of competing for playing time next fall. He could still earn a scholarship going into his second season, but that’s not guaranteed.

Regardless, being a college football player is quite the accomplishment for Fox, who helped Jackson’s football program get back on track in head coach Ryan Nesbitt’s first season this fall. Through 11 games, Adrian threw for 2,002 yards and 19 touchdowns with a 60.2% completion percentage and only four interceptions.

Fox also finished as the Indians second-leading rusher behind breakout freshman running back Jaylon Hampton with 570 yards and seven rushing touchdowns off 86 carries. Hampton led Jackson at 1,179 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns to make for one of the best rushing duos in the state with Fox.

With Fox under center during the regular season before he was injured in the district playoffs, the Indians finished 8-1 overall and won their sixth-straight SEMO North Conference Championship. This included a 42-35 win over last year’s Class 5 State Champions Francis Howell one week after the Indians suffered their only loss of the regular season to out-of-state Edwardsville (Illinois).

“I really just want what’s best for the team,” Fox said. “As long as the team is winning then I’ll always be happy. [I focused] on becoming a leader — the team needed leaders, and we knew that if the leadership came from the players then we could have a great season. This season felt great and the best part about it was the guys beside me and the guys coaching me.”

Jackson sophomore Drew Parsons took over at quarterback after Fox’s injury and helped his team beat Lindbergh and then Seckman 55-21 for the district championship. Parsons and the Indians ended up falling to eventual state runner-ups Christian Brothers College (11-3) 35-23 in the state quarterfinals.

“It was tough seeing us lose,” Fox said. “It was great to see them win against Seckman and finish it out against Lindbergh even though I wasn’t able to play. I wish I would’ve been able to play, but it didn’t end up that way. There’s nothing I could’ve done afterwards to fix that, but ups and downs are a part of sports.”

In an interview with The Cash-Book Journal after beating Seckman, Parsons said he was able to learn a lot from Fox. “I learned all the little things from him — he teaches me about looking off safeties, reading coverages and throwing deep balls,” Drew noted. “He has a stronger arm than I do, so he just teaches me how to throw a little bit further.”

“Football is a brotherhood — it’s hard to put it in words,” Fox said. “Whenever you get a bunch of guys going for the same goal, and they all want it just as badly as you do, it’s something special.”

Even though Fox missed the last two games of the season, he was rightfully named both all-conference and all-district while being a finalist for the Carr Trophy. This award is given to the best offensive player in the SEMO Conference.

Taking home the Carr Trophy for this season was a future teammate of Fox’s in Portageville senior running back Jamarion Smith, who earned the award by rushing for 2,463 yards and 47 touchdowns.

These two future Red-hawks will be joined by one of Fox’s lifelong friends and Jackson teammate senior offensive lineman Zane Coon. Not only was Coon named the SEMO North Conference Lineman of the Year, but he was also one of the Indians three Class 6 All-State selections from this season.

“Zane is a great teammate — he works hard and is a great leader,” Adrian said. “I’m excited to keep playing with him.”

Despite being a preferred walk-on, Fox still has a chance to eventually become the signal caller for SEMO’s offense, which has seen some quality play at the quarterback position in head coach Tom Matukewicz’s, aka Coach Tuke, era.

The most recent is current Redhawks senior quaterback Paxton DeLaurent, who led SEMO to make the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Playoffs in 2022. That season, DeLaurent was named a HERO Sports Sophomore All-American and an Ohio Valley Conference All-Newcomer Team pick after throwing for 2,684 yards and 19 touchdowns.

“They’ve developed some great quarterbacks, and it’s something that’s definitely captivating as a quarterback looking from the outside looking in at the program,” Fox noted. “Now that I’m with SEMO, I’m super excited.”

“The most compelling part about their program is how they not just develop football players, but they develop men who are great leaders. That’s the most exciting part that I’m looking forward to the most.”

Looking at joining the program, what Adrian is excited for the most is developing himself as a player. “They’ve got a new weight coach, and I’ve met him already. He’s really good, and I’m really excited to start working with him. [Offensive coordinator] Coach [Jeremy] McDowell is great and has developed a lot of good quarterbacks. I can’t wait to be coached by him.”

When asked about what’s made him successful as a quarterback and handling the pressure of playing at the position, Fox said one has to look at what’s important. “Pressure isn’t important,” he noted.

Nick McNeal covers high school sports, college sports and community events for The Cash-Book Journal. He graduated from Southeast Missouri State University with a degree in multimedia journalism and has lived in Cape Girardeau County for the past five years. He can be reached at cbjsports@socket. net.

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