Shrine Bowl offers Lewisville’s Means some rare limelight

bmccormick@heraldonline.comDecember 12, 2012 

  • More information Want more? Visit heraldonline.com for a highlight video from Monday and Tuesday’s S.C. Shrine Bowl practices, as well as an interview with Malcolm Means.

— “Where’s my golden domer?”

“Who’s this kid … where’s he from?”

“You seen No. 26? Kid wants to play …”

The excited whispers picked up steadily Tuesday afternoon as college coaches and recruiting gurus began to discover Lewisville’s Malcolm Means. The senior running back/safety is turning heads, opening eyes and sending onlookers scurrying for their pocketed rosters this week during Shrine Bowl practice in Spartanburg. Means, wearing Lewisville’s gold helmet with blue facemask, is lining up at safety for the South Carolina squad and his hustle, effort and athleticism the first couple practices have earned him a good chance of extended playing time Saturday against the Tar Heel team.

“Malcolm Means is an outstanding athlete,” said Ray Stackley, South Carolina’s coach from Stratford High School. “He’ll ending up playing a lot this game. He’s in there vying real hard for a starting job right now.”

Means had an outstanding senior campaign for Will Mitchell’s resurgent Lewisville Lions. He played all over the field though primarily at running back and free safety. Means rushed for over 1,000 yards this year, averaging over seven yards per carry, and 10 touchdowns, while seven of the 28 passes he caught also went for touchdowns.

But it’s Means’ potential at the safety position that could land him a Division I football scholarship. He split time with Lewisville quarterback Qua Walls in the defensive secondary, but still managed 28 tackles, five tackles-for-loss, four sacks, four interceptions (two of which he returned for touchdowns), and a fumble recovery that he took back 52 yards for a TD.

The cynic might point out those numbers largely were accumulated against Class A competition. Means’ goal this week is to show that he can produce against the best, an opportunity afforded him by the Shrine Bowl.

“He doesn’t have the fanfare,” Mitchell said Tuesday while watching his protégé, “the publicity that some of the other kids have here, so it’s a chance for him to show he belongs.”

Stackley added, “This game is about that; you’re always gonna have the star players, but you’re always gonna have some guys that get discovered, and I think Malcolm Means is gonna be one of those guys.”

Minnesota and North Carolina are two of the schools that visited Richburg during the fall to check out Means in person. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound athlete already holds offers from Football Championship Series (FCS) schools Youngstown State and South Carolina State, but hopes to use this week to convince more of the Minnesota’s and UNC’s that he’s worthy of Division I college football. So far, Means feels like he belongs.

“There’s a lot of competition, but I feel like I can hang in with these boys pretty good,” he said after Tuesday’s morning session.

Any thoughts of dipping his toe in the waters of college-level football were quickly splashed away when Means was matched up Monday and Tuesday against Goose Creek receiver Tramel Terry, a Georgia commitment and the consensus No. 1 prospect in South Carolina this year.

“He’s pretty quick,” said Means, who has a 2.7 grade point average.

“Me and him’s about the same speed so it’s a real good matchup when me and him get in the open field together.”

Means couldn’t have asked for a better shop window to flaunt his abilities than the Shrine Bowl. Though he was largely unheard of before this week, he’s shown off his visceral athleticism and god-given physical talents in front of scores of college coaches.

That hardly surprised Stackley, a whippersnapper of a coach who no doubt favors the underdog.

“Some of those guys from those small areas that don’t have a big media market we don’t know about them sometimes,” he said after Tuesday’s afternoon practice. “But as soon as we saw Malcolm on film and investigated, he was a guy we really got excited about.”

The athleticism and natural ease of movement would have jumped out of the tape like a 3D effect. But Newberry High School coach Don Frost, who is leading the South Carolina secondary this week, was equally impressed by Means’ intangible qualities.

“The thing that I’m excited about Malcolm is he is a great young man to be around, a great young man to be around,” Frost said.

“He works extremely hard, he’s very hungry and he really wants to learn. He’s done a tremendous job.”

Means said he’s successfully tuning out the pressure of performing in front of the coaches and scouts.

But that doesn’t mean that the kid who played three years at Great Falls before transferring to Lewisville this year isn’t a little nervous about playing at Wofford’s Gibbs Stadium Saturday in front of a large crowd.

“I’m a little nervous because I never played in a college stadium before but as long as I go out there and do my job, stay on my assignment, I’ll be all right.”

After concluding his interview with The Herald, it was on to another, this one with the 247sports.com UNC recruiting web site.

As Means patiently answered the reporter’s questions, shiny chunks of earring noticeably sparkled in each ear. It’s just one way he’s caught the eye so far this week.

“There’s a lot of schools out here looking, lot of coaches watching out here, said Frost, “but when the lights come on you gotta go play, and I just think that he will really show up.”

VIDEO: Malcolm Means

VIDEO: Shrine Bowl practice

Bret McCormick 329-4032. Twitter: @BretJust1T

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