RICHBURG — So eager to lock up the commitment of Lewisville senior Malcolm Means, new N.C. State football coach Dave Doeren and his coaching entourage hung around the school Thursday, Jan. 17, waiting for Means’ father to get out of work at the local mill.
Then Doeren worked his magic.
During the ensuing in-home visit, Means committed to the Wolfpack, joining two others as Doeren’s first three recruits during his tenure in Raleigh.
“Mac (Means) just had a real good feeling,” said Lewisville coach Will Mitchell. “I think he’ll tell you that the vibe he got, going up there with a new coach, a new staff, a good time. He’s one of their guys; he was a priority for them.”
“I like what they got going on,” Means said Thursday. “They got a good philosophy. I like the players, and I felt like it was a great fit for me.”
Momentum slowly built in Means’ recruitment. In the fall while he was dominating Class A football on both sides of the ball, rushing for more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns plus catching 28 passes for 580 yards and seven more scores, S.C. State and Youngstown State were the only schools to initially offer scholarships.
A number of Division I schools graced the Lewisville High School halls; Minnesota, Southern Mississippi and Louisiana-Lafayette were the first. North Carolina and N.C. State eventually showed up, and they cemented their interest with offers after Means’ stock soared during the week of the Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas. There, the 6-foot-2, 190-pound safety showed a fluid athleticism and clear willingness to knock heads in the defensive secondary.
After Means earned a qualifying test score in late December, N.C. State, namely defensive coaches Des Kitchings and Clayton White, visited Richburg several times in January. That showed Means the interest was sincere, a step above the form letters flooding the country from Division I schools throughout the year.
“It showed their commitment to me, the fact that they wanted me,” he said. “That kind of helped me to make my decision.”
He visited N.C. State’s Raleigh campus Jan. 11, an experience that shored up his belief that the school would be the right place for him.
Then came Doeren’s in-home visit on Jan. 17. After handling some business in Charlotte that morning, the N.C. State coaches joined Mitchell for lunch at the Front Porch restaurant. After using Mitchell’s office as a mobile recruiting command center for several hours, the Pack staff then made its way to the Means household.
Doeren struck Mitchell as “very good in the living room, a very good closer. He appears to have a real clear vision and has assembled a staff that’s very diverse. There’s some older guys, some younger guys, and just overall, a very positive feeling from the whole thing.”
Means wanted to play Division I, but he also felt that he was good enough to get some offensive touches too, something most of the Division I schools weren’t really keen on. But N.C. State promised he would get the chance to return punts and kickoffs, alongside his secondary duties. Means was sold.
“That was important to Mac. He wanted to have at least a chance to get his hands on the football,” Mitchell said.
Means is scheduled to sign with N.C. State on Wednesday, Feb. 6, National Signing Day.
“It feels good to bring some pride back to the city of Richburg and Lewisville High School,” he said.
Means graduates from high school on June 7, then reports to Raleigh later that month, becoming Lewisville’s first Division I recruit since Sheldon Brown went to South Carolina in 1997.
Rivals.com recruiting analyst Woody Wommack told TheWolfpacker.com last week that Means “is a true diamond in the rough and a great addition this late in the process.” He added, “his talent has never been in question ... he could end up being a key member of this year’s class.”
Brown only had one Division I offer out of Lewisville, but parlayed a successful run with the Gamecocks into an 11-year NFL career that’s still trucking (he’s with the Cleveland Browns as a 33-year-old cornerback). Means spoke with Brown the other day, who advised him to be ready physically for his arrival on campus in the summer. A player like Brown surely would have had more offers these days, but it’s still a challenge to get recruiters down to Richburg. The Front Porch’s fried chicken is only so good.
“These kids haven’t been exposed as much, and that’s something that’s my job to change,” said Mitchell, who just completed a successful 9-3 first season at the Lewisville helm. “I didn’t get to do it as much last year because of my late start.”
Besides putting Richburg back on the recruiting trail, Means’ anticipated signature on N.C. State scholarship papers will end a 16-year D-I drought for the proud Lions football program.
“I don’t anticipate that big a gap before the next one,” Mitchell said with a grin.
Bret McCormick 329-4032. Twitter: @BretJust1T