SPARTANBURG — Wheres my golden domer?
Whos this kid wheres 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 Lewisvilles 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 Lewisvilles 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 Carolinas coach from Stratford High School. Hell ending up playing a lot this game. Hes in there vying real hard for a starting job right now.
Means had an outstanding senior campaign for Will Mitchells 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 its 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 doesnt have the fanfare, Mitchell said Tuesday while watching his protégé, the publicity that some of the other kids have here, so its a chance for him to show he belongs.
Stackley added, This game is about that; youre always gonna have the star players, but youre 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 Minnesotas and UNCs that hes worthy of Division I college football. So far, Means feels like he belongs.
Theres a lot of competition, but I feel like I can hang in with these boys pretty good, he said after Tuesdays 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.
Hes pretty quick, said Means, who has a 2.7 grade point average.
Me and hims about the same speed so its a real good matchup when me and him get in the open field together.
Means couldnt have asked for a better shop window to flaunt his abilities than the Shrine Bowl. Though he was largely unheard of before this week, hes 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 dont have a big media market we dont know about them sometimes, he said after Tuesdays 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 Im 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, hes very hungry and he really wants to learn. Hes done a tremendous job.
Means said hes successfully tuning out the pressure of performing in front of the coaches and scouts.
But that doesnt mean that the kid who played three years at Great Falls before transferring to Lewisville this year isnt a little nervous about playing at Woffords Gibbs Stadium Saturday in front of a large crowd.
Im 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, Ill 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 reporters questions, shiny chunks of earring noticeably sparkled in each ear. Its just one way hes caught the eye so far this week.
Theres 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