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Working Hard, Even When No One Is Watching

Ikeem Means
Ikeem Means

He grew up with a dream, a dream to play football for Auburn University. All through little league and high school he played the game with a fervor, an intensity that put him on the recruiting radar of over a half dozen D1 schools.

A two sport athlete, he made All-Metro and All-County in both football and basketball his senior year at Wetumpka High, Ala. and was named Elmore County Player of the Year. However, after graduation the speedy Wide Receiver didn't receive an offer from any big time programs.

He did however get scholarship offers from Alabama A&M, Tuskegee, and Alabama State. His mother wanted him to take one of those offers, but Ikeem had other plans. He was going to pursue his dream, he was going to be an Auburn Tiger.

Ikeem Means turned down those free rides and walked-on at Auburn. The life of a walk-on is tough. In fact statistics prove that most do not last very long. The demands are too challenging and the financial burden too costly.

Ikeem was not deterred by those odds though and he went to work earning a spot on the special teams. He got into four games his first year and played in 12 games on special teams.

His sophomore year he substituted in 12 games at safety and played on special teams in all 14 games of the Tigers National Championship Season. His 20 tackles led the team for non scholarship players.

He earned a ton of respect from his coaches over those first two years and his teammates were thrilled for him when Head Coach Gene Chizik awarded him with a scholarship in 2011. It was a personal victory, a blessing to his mom and it also meant he didn't have to work another summer job to stay in school.

In the summer of 2011 Ikeem responded by challenging for a starting position. Yet when the season rolled around he was once again playing on Coach Boulware's special teams unit.

Two of his goals though had been reached - being an Auburn Tiger and playing on scholarship for Auburn. Now all that remains is becoming a regular in the defensive rotation for Auburn.

And 2012 will be his last year to make that final dream come true. He has a lot of talent to compete with (in Erique Florence, Jermaine Whitehead, Demetruce McNeal, and Ryan Smith) but don't count this guy out yet, he still has his whole senior season left to reach that final goal.

If he doesn't make it, it will not be for lack of effort. Coach Chizik says, "He works his tail off. He's a great young man, and he loves playing football."

He's certainly a shinning testimony of the Auburn Creed and an example to other wood be walk-ons of how to reach their dreams. His advice to them, "Work hard, even when no one is watching."

Come September 1, we'll all be watching the Clemson game and we shouldn't be surprised to see No.16 take the field as a starting safety. But hey if that doesn't happen, Ikeem will do what he's always done ...

Continue working hard, even when no one is watching.