Means Coming to an End with Football?

BLOOMINGTON - The IU football staff is hoping two-sport standout Andrew Means puts a promising future in professional baseball on hold long enough to return to the football field in the fall...

BLOOMINGTON – Bill Lynch already lost one wideout to the pro ranks, and he's hoping he doesn't lose another.

It's not football that could keep Andrew Means from ever catching another football in Memorial Stadium, but baseball. The 6-1, 215-pounder from Avon Lakes, Ohio, is the lead-off hitter for Coach Tracy Smith's baseball team and has caught the eye of plenty of professional scouts for his prowess in centerfield.

A second-team All-Big Ten pick last summer, Means is hitting .370 this spring and leads the team in runs (24), hits (30) and stolen bases (nine). That comes on the heels of a 2007 campaign that saw him lead IU in batting (.369) and runs (32). His 27 stolen bases, meanwhile, led the team and ranked third in the Big Ten.

"I know he is awfully good (at baseball)," Lynch said.

Those abilities will keep Means from the IU football team all spring. While track star Marcus Thigpen will participate with football when they practice on Tuesdays, Means will miss all 15 of the spring's football practice sessions to concentrate on baseball. He's helped the Hoosiers to a 10-7 start to the season, and he'll lead Smith's squad into its Big Ten opener Friday night at Minnesota.

The hope is Means will return to the football team this summer, but that's far from guaranteed. A junior academically, Means is eligible to be drafted in Major League Baseball's Amateur Draft in June. The consensus is that Means will be picked and will then have a choice to make.

"Whatever is best for him, but I think he wants to play another year of college football," Lynch said.

To IU's credit, they're doing more than hoping. Indiana signed four talented wide receivers in February, inking Tandon Doss, Tyler Adetona, Charles Love III and Marquelo Suel. Earlier this month, they also added Ft. Wayne product DeMarlo Belcher to the mix as well.

Indiana only signed one wide receiver in 2007 – Matt Ernest – so wide receiver was always going to be a point of emphasis with the incoming freshman class. But the uncertainly about Means' future also played a role in the decision to sign Belcher.

"(The possibility of losing Means to baseball) is always in the back of your mind," Lynch said.

It would be a big loss. Means ranked third on the team a season ago in receptions (48) and was second in receiving yards (558). While much of the attention centered on the play of NFL-bound James Hardy, Means was highly productive as well.

"Means and (Ray) Fisher, if you go back over the last couple of years, when we got the ball to them they were successful," Lynch said. "That jumps out to you."

There's a lot that jumps out about Means in both sports. His best professional options will likely come in baseball, and Lynch is just hoping he decides to wait at least one year before following that path.

"If professional baseball is in his future, that's great," Lynch said. "He's such a great kid. But I feel pretty good he'll be back.

"I hope."

OTHER WIDE RECEIVER NOTES:
- With Hardy gone and Means a question mark, some other wide receivers are going to need to emerge as major contributors this fall. Lynch expects Brandon Walker-Roby to be one of those players.

While Means and Ray Fisher sat out their true freshman seasons in 2005 as redshirts, the 5-11, 195-pound Walker-Roby played in his first-year on campus. But after catching 10 passes in his first season he's caught only nine more in the last two seasons combined. But Lynch expects the Indianapolis product to be an integral part of the aerial attack this fall.

"I think Brandon Walker-Roby will have a big year," Lynch said. "He's had to bide his time. He's been a great team guy about it. It's his fourth year, his senior year. Think he's really going to make some plays for us."

- Lynch on Demarlo Belcher: "He's an interesting guy. He was like James Hardy in the sense that he went through high school figuring he was going to be a Division I basketball player. He's big, strong, can run, good skills. Everyone spoke highly of him, and thought he'd be a good take for us."

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