The kid is an interesting story, and one of the few true nosetackles in this year's draft. http://www.al.com/sports/mobileregister/rkennedy.ssf?/base/sports/1102846734227080.xml Albert Means: Everything that's wrong with big-time college football. Common beliefs are often correct. The BCS is obviously unfair and Notre Dame couldn't have handled its coaching situation any more ineptly. But if your perception of Albert Means is of some shadowy figure in an alley with his hand out to receive the keys to an Escalade, then you haven't met the Memphis defensive tackle. Means will celebrate his 23rd birthday a week from tomorrow in Mobile, where he and his Tiger teammates will be preparing for the GMAC Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on Dec. 22. The final game of his college football career will take place in the same state where it began. But between signing with Alabama as one of the most highly publicized and controversial recruits in the country in 2000 and his final game against Bowling Green as a Memphis team captain, Means has had one of the most remarkable journeys in the history of college football. "Since I've come to Memphis, I've become a better person and a better football player," Means said last week. "I got married, got my school work together, matured and got my mind right. My mind was clouded for a while with all that other stuff. But I'm a whole different person now." The "other stuff" Means refers to is a recruitment that eventually involved a federal investigation and allegations that his coaches at Memphis' Trezevant High were offering his services to the highest bidder. Nobody accused Means of anything improper, but the sordid affair did lead to coaches losing their jobs, triggered the NCAA investigation that put Alabama on probation, and could still land at least one person in jail for his role in the scandal. As a 345-pound freshman, Means was only a moderate success at Alabama. He started the final four games of the 2000 season but finished with only 18 tackles before leaving Tuscaloosa after one season. A period of uncertainty followed for Means, who admits that he thought he had played his last football game. Back in Memphis, his weight ballooned to 360 pounds and he was disillusioned with the often hypocritical world of big-time college football. "Quitting is what I was leaning toward," Means said before offering a big smile. "Then I got married and got baptized and everything has been going great for me since then. "I don't think anybody can get back to the weight they were in high school, but I'm playing at 318 right now. My teammates respect me and it means a lot that they would vote me and (quarterback) Danny (Wimprine) to be captains. We play as one big, happy family and we love each other." Means has been good enough this season to be considered a solid NFL prospect. He has recorded 36 total tackles, including 7.5 for a loss, for the 8-3 Tigers, who opened the season with a 20-13 win at Ole Miss and scored 49 points in a loss to Louisville. He will compete in the Shrine Bowl on Jan. 15 in hopes of improving his NFL draft status. But regardless of what happens with his football career, Means is now confident that he has overcome the stigma of being associated with one of the most publicized controversies in college football history. "I don't let too much bother me anymore," Means said. "If you let the past mess with the future then you're going backward. I'm just trying to go forward."