McTelvin Agim turns heads in first Arkansas workout as Bielema Awards Scholarships to walkons

Bret Bielema loves the preparation for the Liberty Bowl, now in full swing with Kansas State preparation as the Hogs point to the Jan. 2 game in Memphis.

McTelvin Agim's legend grew a bit Saturday, the first practice at Arkansas for one of the nation's premier high school prospects. He was three hours early.

Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema met with the media after what was a developmental practice Saturday as the Razorbacks continued prep for a Jan. 2 date with Kansas State in the Liberty Bowl.

Agim, nicknamed Sosa, is not eligible to play in the bowl. But he signed his financial aid agreement and has finished his paperwork to enroll at Arkansas in January. That makes him eligible to at least practice with the Hogs for about six practices.

"He's very quick and sudden," Bielema said Saturday afternoon. "He's a hard, hard worker.

"He was three hours ahead of time to get taped. Very impressive."

Agim's presence at practice gave Robb Smith a reason to watch the individual work between the offensive and defensive line, instead of pass skeleton drills, per his usual routine.

"I just had to see his first time through individual work," said Smith, the defensive coordinator. "He's very special. He's got that twitch, that burst. I usually spend that time they are in individual with pass skelly, but not today. I went to see Sosa."

Defensive line coach Rory Segrest said there were some repetitions for Agim even before he knew the basics.

"I'm not sure he knows where to line up yet and it's probably not fair to put him in there, but we did," Segrest said. "He's at 270 and is probably going to be even bigger. We just put him at the rush end for now. But I know he's probably going to develop into a guy we can move around for matchups."

Bielema wasn't exactly sure of the history, but he said Agim may be a first as far as a player who has already practiced at a college and plays in the Under Armour All-Star Game.

"We've taken care of the paper work to make sure it's okay," Bielema said. "We are still working on that. But I don't think anyone has ever done that. I believe he'll be the first."

Bielema said it was purely a developmental workout with most of the regulars getting the day off of heavy work after what he called brilliant workouts Thursday and Friday where the majority of the K-State installation was completed. There was a tip of the cap to the offensive line, now working without Sam Pittman, gone to Georgia. Eric Mateos and Brey Cook are coaching the line.

"They didn't miss a beat," Bielema said. "It's clear that they have taken things personal. They don't want to be the ones to hold us back. I don't think that will happen.

"I was going through the hallway the other day and heard some noise and laughter coming out of the O-line room. Eric had already moved in. He had seven or eight of the linemen in there and they were going over some things. I think he's going to do very well. The guys are talking about giving him some tape for a job resume.

"We've given him a contract for this time. He's doing well."

Bielema said there is hope that a new offensive line coach will be hired by Jan. 14 when coaches can hit the road on recruiting.

"I want to have that guy I can take into homes for our offensive line recruits," Bielema said. "We've got several (candidates) that are in NFL seasons and several that may be in bowl situations. I'm going to meet with (offensive coordinator) Dan (Enos) the day after the bowl and we'll compare notes and see if there are some that we might can talk to that week."

Bielema said there is little doubt that he has a chance to upgrade his offensive line coaching situation.

"I feel like I've had three very good ones and I think we've helped ourselves every time," he said. "I have hopes that we can do that again. That's the goal every time I hire a coach."

Bielema was asked about the prospects of landing Randy Ramsey a second time. The Florida linebacker spent one year at Arkansas before grades knocked him out of school. Ramsey has been taking on-line courses in hopes of playing Division I football again.

"He made himself ineligible here," Bielema said. "He has done some good things and he could play here or if not here, somewhere else."

Bielema said Ramsey would have to be signed again and counted in the new class.

"A lot of it is up to Randy," Bielema said. "We'll see how his grades are and then how it impacts us as far as APR and the scholarship count. I do keep a chart on that daily. It's my Bible, my roster management chart."

Bielema announced that he awarded scholarships to walkons Toby Baker, Karl Roesler and Nichols Thomas-Smith at the team banquet on Friday night. Baker is the junior punter. Roesler is a sophomore defensive end. Thomas-Smith is a junior outside linebacker.

Baker, Bielema said, has turned himself into an NFL type punter. The coach said his average may not reflect that, but that's because of his ability to place the ball inside the 20.

"When we have asked him to turn the field over, he can do that," Bielema said. "He's very, very good."

Thomas-Smith may not return for a fifth year. Bielema is trying to talk him into coming back to help on special teams, but he's already graduated.

"Either way, he's got a scholarship for this semester," Bielema said. "Roesler keeps getting better and has been on the field for us and is basically our strarting strong linebacker in base situations."

Running backs coach Jamel Singleton said a lot of the developmental work has focused on fullback play.

"We've tried to get a lot of work for Chris Jones and Demani Carter," Singleton said.

Kendrick Jackson remains with his side of the ball. Bielema said Jackson would move to linebacker for developmental work.

"Really, we needed to take some of the load off of Kenderick right now, as far as developmental work," Singleton said. "His body can stand only so much. As far as our work with our ones at fullback, that means he's taking a blow to the body almost every play. We didn't think extra developmental work is something that would be smart right now. The body has to have a break."

Singleton said freshman Rawleigh Williams continues to progress in his rehab from a neck injury in the Auburn game. He's not cleared for workouts with the team just yet.

"But I'd say everything is positive for his return," Singleton said. "He's running and lifting. He's with our strength and conditioninging staff fulltime right now. Everything has been great. I don't know when (clearance would come), but I think he's really done well as far as being able to return."

As far as developmental quarterbacks, Bielema praised a long list. Austin Allen has gotten the work with the top units in support of Brandon Allen, leaving most of the developmental work to Ty Storey, Rafe Peavy and Ricky Town.

"They have all done some good things and they have all had things that weren't as good," Bielema said. "Austin has been outstanding. He's had the most work. I just wanted to see him in the huddle, see him do a lot of things.

"Then you have the other three in the developmental work. Ty did some very good things today and had a big play at the end of the day, hitting a touchdown. But two plays before that was a bad play. Rafe has done some things well, but he holds the ball too long sometimes. Ricky has stepped up and done things well, but he had a fumble exchange problem in the running game."

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