Bloomington – Indiana's decision to reinstate quarterback Kellen Lewis might have actually brought two key players back into the fold this fall.
When IU Coach Bill Lynch announced late last month that the Hoosiers' record-setting quarterback was being welcomed back to the team after a four-month suspension, it might have been the thing that brought wide receiver Andrew Means back as well.
Means, who was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in the spring and has been playing with their Montana farm team, said it was the announcement on Lewis that finally tipped the scales on his decision. If Lewis hadn't been brought back, Means admits that his IU football career might have been over as well.
"(If Lewis hadn't been reinstated) it would have been a close call," Means said following the first day of fall camp. "It would have been something I would have thought about a lot longer. That was a big factor."
The Reds encouraged Means to stay in Montana and finish out the minor league season, and Means said there was a time during the process when he told the IU staff that he wasn't going to be back for his junior season. But he ultimately decided he couldn't stay away from the football field.
"I wasn't going to be able to keep playing baseball in Montana while this was going on in Bloomington," Means said. "So I had to come back."
Means was welcomed back with no questions asked, but Lewis had to earn his way back after being suspended in the weeks leading up to spring football. The reasons for Lewis' suspension have never been disclosed, but the 6'1", 177-pound junior admitted that the blame for the situation is squaring on his shoulders.
"I had to show I matured, became a better all around individual and basically stop making selfish decisions," Lewis said. "That's what got me in trouble in the first place."
Lewis did manage to meet the requirements that the staff set for him, and he was reinstated last month. While Means is back with the No. 1 unit, Lewis is going to have to compete with Ben Chappell for the starting job. Chappell ran the No. 1 offense throughout the spring, giving him a leg up on Lewis as far as commanding the Hoosiers' new no-huddle attack.
On day one of camp Chappell got the most reps with the No. 1 offense during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 work, and Lewis understands where he currently sits on the depth chart.
"As of right now, he is the starter," Lewis said. "I'm going to go out there and try to compete. I know he's a competitor, competition is always fun, and I think it will bring the best out of both of us."
While Lewis admitted to being a little bit rusty after his four-month absence, Lynch said he was pleased with some of the things he saw from him on the practice field. But more than anything else, he's glad that Lewis was willing to do the things that were required in the off-season to return to the squad.
"As we talked as we went through this thing, the things we asked him to do, we made it difficult, and it took him a while to do all the things we asked him to do," Lynch said. "But he did it, and he did it because he wants to be at Indiana, and he wants to be the quarterback of this football team.
"There was a point where it would have been easy for him to say I'm going somewhere else and do this, but he wanted to do it here, and he was willing to do the things we asked."
Lewis did those things, and rejoined his teammates when the veterans reported for camp Sunday night. One of the players Lewis was most excited to see was Means, whose return was both a surprise and a relief.
"I almost cried (when I heard Means was returning)," Lewis said. "I heard rumors...I guess it wasn't official until I saw him at dinner (Sunday). It's kind of like someone you haven't seen since kindergarten. We've built a nice bond.
"I told him he was crazy to not go to professional baseball, but I do appreciate the decision to come back."
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