Jason Ivester

Spring Countdown: Defensive line

With the Razorbacks closing in on spring football, HawgsDaily is breaking down who we believe Arkansas' starters are at all 22 positions. We'll reveal a portion of the starting lineup each day through March 28, when the Razorbacks begin practice.

Defensive endMcTelvin Agim

Soph. | 6-3 | 289 | Hope (Ark.)

2016 stats: 13 games (5 starts), 27 tackles (8 solo), 5.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 2 quarterback hurries

Why he'll start in 2017: As a five-star prospect and the No. 18 overall recruit in the country according to the 247Sports Composite, Agim could have gone anywhere to play football, but he chose to stay home and play for the Razorbacks. He worked his way into the starting lineup following the bye week and started the final five games of the season as a defensive tackle. In the 3-4 scheme, Agim will likely move back outside to his natural position as a defensive end. He could be a force for the Razorbacks in 2017.

Why this spring is important: The jump from your freshman to sophomore season is usually pretty big and Arkansas hopes Agim is no different. He had flashes of excellence in 2016, but he needs to use this spring to continue getting more comfortable and to become more consistent. It's also an important spring because of the switch to the 3-4. Agim needs to learn the system and adjust to new defensive line coach John Scott Jr.

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Defensive endBriston Guidry

R-Fr. | 6-3 | 294 | Metairie (La.) Archbishop Rummel

2016 stats: N/A (redshirted)

Why he'll start in 2017: Similar to the second outside linebacker position, HawgsDaily really isn't sure who will end up starting here. We eventually went with Guidry because we like his body of work, but Melvin Johnson II, Jonathan Marshall, T.J. Smith and Armon Watts could all make a case for the job. There's also a chance that someone else could emerge and the chance than some of these guys end up playing inside at defensive tackle, too. As for Guidry, he is a former four-star recruit who had offers from Alabama, LSU, Oklahoma and many other big-time programs. He looks the part and was described as an "unbelievable practice player" by head coach Bret Bielema late in the season.

Why this spring is important: Assuming McTelvin Agim starts at one of the defensive end spots, there will be a ton of competition for the second one. Nearly all of the Razorbacks' defensive line from last year is no longer here, so there are a bunch of somewhat new faces. Guidry - or whoever wins the job - needs to use this spring to separate themselves from the pack. Plus, they'll be learning a new system, the 3-4 scheme, and adjusting to a new coach, John Scott Jr.

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Nose tackleBijhon Jackson

Sr. | 6-2 | 335 | El Dorado (Ark.)

2016 stats: 13 games (0 starts), 9 tackles (4 solo), 4.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 1 quarterback hurry

Why he'll start in 2017: Jackson was the prized recruit in Arkansas' 2014 signing class, the Razorbacks' second under head coach Bret Bielema. In three seasons, however, he has only 25 tackles and has yet to start a game. That could change in 2017 with the graduation of Taiwan Johnson and the shift to the 3-4 defense. Jackson is a perfect fit for a nose tackle in that system, plus he's a senior, so this is his last chance to make an impact on the team. He showed he is capable of that last season, when he made 4.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks despite limited playing time.

Why this spring is important: As we mentioned above, Jackson has yet to make an impact at Arkansas in three years, despite being a four-star recruit. He needs to prove he deserves the starting job over someone like rising sophomore Austin Capps, who was a backup defensive tackle as a true freshman last season. There's also the chance that Clemson graduate transfer Scott Pagano chooses to join the Razorbacks. If that happens, it's likely his job to lose unless Jackson makes huge strides this spring.

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Here are links to our previous breakdowns, in case you missed any of them:

Quarterback/running back

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Interior offensive line

Offensive tackles

Safeties

Cornerbacks

Linebackers


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