As one of the nation’s best high school talents last season, Hope standout and Arkansas true freshman defensive end McTevlin Agim (6-3, 290) is used to being the center of attention.
That’s just what he was in last Saturday’s scrimmage for not only making plays, but getting into a scuffle with sophomore offensive line Hjalte Froholdt that senior offensive lineman Dan Skipper soon joined in on.
“You know, Arkansas has the best offensive line group in the nation, so it's going to get physical and they're going to fight until the end of the rep and we're going to fight until the end of the rep,” Agim said. “So I mean, it was like, we shook it up after the whole incident. It's a family environment here.
“We just have, everybody had different opinions so we felt like it was something different. But we understood after we talked it out. We shook it up and it's still love.”
He got a lot support from his fellow defenders, but that came with a warning.
“They were like 'good job standing your ground, but you've got to understand you can't be doing things like that,’” Agim said. “They’re veterans and they know the game. You've got to be poised because Coach B is going to look at you like, 'I'm not going to be able to put him in the game because he's going to cost me penalties and penalties can cost you the game.’"
Agim, who has been splitting reps with Karl Roesler while starter Tevin Beanum is excused from practice, arrived in January as an early enrollee.
“Yeah, I'm glad I came up early,” Agim said. “I feel like it would have been a real difficult challenge for me trying to come up in June or July, whenever everybody comes up. I believe May or something like that.
“Not coming up early, it would have been hard for me to learn the plays, learn the techniques and things like that. I would have been way behind because it took me some time to get from what high school expects to transfer to college.”
He made it clear that he is now all about college and won’t be going back to Hope for the prom.
“I'm going to be up here working,” Agim said. “I'm too busy. I'm on the grind. I've got to get it."
He also has been working at first-team tackle when Arkansas goes to its cash package, which deals with the pass.
“It's been good because when you're inside you've got to work your moves quicker,” Agim said. “…I’ll be faster than most guards because I'm pretty explosive. Me moving right there, it's pretty nice for me.”
Agim praised graduate assistant Alfred Davis for helping him earlier this week.
“I feel like - what was it Monday? I felt like Monday was probably my worst day of practice, but I got in with Big Al, the defensive line assistant and got down on the plays,” Agim said. “I understand them very well now.”
Agim actually took part in a few bowl practices in December and came into the spring with an attitude that he needed to prove himself despite being ranked as one of the top 10 high school players in the country and a five-star prospect by ESPN.com.
“I do feel like I've got to prove myself because most of the D-line is seniors,” Agim said. “They're not going to want me on the field if I can't compete with the best. So I feel like I have to come in and show that I can play right now and quick. So yeah, it's been pretty good. I feel like I've stepped up to the plate.”
Agim came out of high school at 270 and is now at 290 after hitting the weights during the winter months.
He wants to play at 285 next season.
“I believe I'm 290 right now,” Agim said. “I fluctuate from 287 to 290, so I'll be pretty good when it comes around.”
Agim notes that older defensive linemen, Deatrich Wise, Daytrion Dean, Beanum and Roesler have been a big help to him.
“All of them have been helping me get my fundamentals down,” Agim said. “They'll come in when they don't have class on their time and help me watch film and help me learn the plays. So they've all been helpful with me.”
Agim is also a great student and had nearly 20 hours of college credit before he took a step on campus.
He has a stated intent of graduating in three years and declaring for the NFL draft at that time.
“After this semester I'll be classified as a sophomore academically,” Agim said. “I'm still trying to graduate early.”