NFL dreams brought Means back to civilization


Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Andrew Means misses his teammates in the Pioneer League, the nightly games they played under starlit skies and the endless-summer feel of minor league baseball.

Means gave it all up for two-a-days, gassers and mettlesome cornerbacks at the line of scrimmage. But being back at Indiana has its benefits.

"Montana's a little different than being in a civilized state," said Means, a junior wide receiver for the Hoosiers. "It's a different world out there. There's no pollution because it's all mountains. There's no businesses. It's just straight mountains and country people. It's rough out there."

Means still had a blast playing designated hitter for the Billings Mustangs, a Cincinnati Reds Rookie League affiliate. He was selected in the 11th round of the Major League Baseball draft in June and played 22 games for Billings, hitting .231 with three home runs and 16 RBIs. His best performance came with Billings on the brink of clinching the North Division first-half title, as he bashed two home runs and drove in seven in a 17-2 win.

Though Means missed spring football practice to play with Indiana's baseball team and left for big sky country in June, he always planned to return to football. He reported Aug. 3 with the rest of his teammates.

"Obviously, my aspirations are to play in the NFL after this year," said Means, who hit .357 for the Hoosiers baseball team this spring. "And if that doesn't work out, I can always fall back on going back to play for the Reds. It's a good situation."

The 6-foot, 215-pound Means has two years of eligibility left in football but expects to make a decision on his athletic future shortly after the season, before baseball spring training. After ranking fifth on the Hoosiers in receiving yards last fall (263), Means is a projected starter this fall along with Ray Fisher and Terrance Turner.

Record-setting wideout James Hardy left Indiana a year early for the NFL, a move that affected Means' decision to return.

"We've returning a lot of solid receivers," Means said. "We're ready to take on that role, of being the go-to receiver. I'm excited to take on that role."

Means receives daily updates from his teammates with the Mustangs, who currently sit in first place. Billings manager Julio Garcia told Means that the team would watch Indiana football games before taking the field this fall.

"It was awesome," Means said. "I met a lot of good people out there."

The return to the gridiron wasn't easy. Before this month, Means hadn't touched a football since the Insight Bowl in December and was playing baseball when Indiana installed the no-huddle offense.

There also was the transition from the laid-back, even-keeled world of baseball to the emotional grind of preseason football camp.

"It's definitely two different personalities," Means said, "but I have them both. Getting that emotion started again, being around your teammates every day, it just gets you going again."