Having good hands is a job requirement for a wide receiver. When Dalton Screws is not catching a football, he is having one kicked out of his hands as the holder for Jacksonville State on field goals. It is what he does with his hands off the gridiron that makes them special.
The Anniston native has been coming to Jacksonville State games his entire life. Playing for the Gamecocks is a dream come true for him.
“It’s fun to brag on this guy,” said head coach Bill Clark. “Him being a local guy, everywhere I go people always ask me, ‘Hey coach, do you know Dalton Screws?’ I think he’s kind of a hero around here.”
In reality, Screws is just a college football player around here. His heroism takes place abroad.
Screws spent the previous four summers on mission trips with E3 Partners. His first trip was to Caracas, Venezuela but his last three took him to been to the Ukara Island and Mugumu in the African nation of Tanzania.
While there, Screws teaches the natives of this underdeveloped land how to Improve their quality of life. He shows them things such as how to keep fish clean so it can be sold at full value and how to dig wells for fresh water. He also helps provide AIDS testing and eye exams all while sharing his faith.
While he is often the one teaching the natives how to improve their lives, Screws has been taught life lessons by the natives. On his first trip to Mwanza, Tanzania, he met a 7-year-old girl at an orphanage. He remembers her being “the happiest, sweetest little girl you’ve ever met in your life.” He later found out that little girl was diagnosed with AIDS. When he returned the next year, he learned that she had passed away from her illness.
“I have her picture in my room,” Screws said. “I can still see the little girl. It’s definitely something I look back to.”
Screws came home with a new-found appreciation of the little things in life, a bit slower to complain. He returned to a reality where he can pay for his education by simply playing football.
“When you see how important that education is and it meaning life or death for some people in other countries, you appreciate going to class,” Screws said. “It makes it easier to sit through those lectures.”
“I know coaches say a lot of these things sometimes,” said coach Clark, “but literally, this is a guy that comes to practice everyday, great attitude, works, and is off the field that same guy. He’s an outstanding young man.”
“You go over there and you see all the people who would die to be in your shoes,” said Screws. “Not just to play the sport, but to get the education that we get. Just to being able to do something that I love to do that I have done since i was 5-years-old and for that to benefit me for the rest of my life with my education is absolutely unreal.”