Hogs' Agim accepts DT as lasting position

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Friday, March 8, 2019
Arkansas defensive lineman McTelvin Agim is shown during practice Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Fayetteville.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas defensive lineman McTelvin Agim is shown during practice Thursday, March 7, 2019, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- McTelvin "Sosa" Agim has made peace with the idea he's strictly a defensive tackle now.

Agim played inside and outside for different parts of his first three seasons at the University of Arkansas, but he always professed to liking defensive end more.

When he made the decision to return for his senior season, it came with the understanding he would set down permanent stakes on the interior, where the double teams are more frequent but the matchup situations for a quick-twitch guy like himself can lead to big plays.

"I just grew to like tackle," Agim said Thursday after the Razorbacks' fourth practice of spring drills. "Me coming back, it was like, 'I'm playing tackle.' I'm OK with that."

Defensive ends coach Steve Caldwell said Armon Watts capitalized on the 4-3 scheme reinstituted last year by coordinator John Chavis and the staff, and Agim can fit that role this season.

"Exactly," Agim said. "I feel like I can make a big impact for us in the season."

The 6-3 Agim said he's added a few extra pounds from his playing weight of 279 last year to better deal with the matchups with guards and the center.

"I'm liking the inside better," he said. "I put a little weight on so I can make sure I'm stout in there."

Coach Chad Morris said he likes what he has seen from Agim from a leadership standpoint.

"Since my freshman year, I've been vocal," Agim said. "Just in a sense of making sure I'm doing the right things and everybody can follow me. But vocally, I'm still the same."

Freshman linebacker Andrew Parker has noticed Agim's role.

"Sosa's always been a great leader," he said. "He was a leader last year. Obviously with big-time guys leaving like Dre [Greenlaw], Rambo [Randy Ramsey], Sosa has also upped his game with being a great leader."

The Razorbacks were out in the cold again, which has been the case for each practice this spring. The temperature was up from Tuesday's 30s into the low 40s, but a light rain and mist took over early in the afternoon and the wind chill dropped to about 35 degrees.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Connor Noland was at his second practice, so he was still wearing non-padded pants while in the acclimation process. Noland did simulated throwing during some of the drills.

"I took it easy today," said Noland, who is scheduled to start for the baseball team Saturday against Louisiana Tech. "I threw a couple of balls in practice, just short screens and shorter throws, and I didn't throw at all after that. I'm going to take care of my arm and make sure I'm ready for Saturday."

Noland said mental reps are extremely important in his case.

"No doubt it's big," he said. "For me to be successful, I have to get mental reps because I'm not going to be able to throw the ball out there. That's going to be a big thing in helping me grow as a quarterback.

"I just think mentally, I've learned a lot about the game in the offseason -- and obviously got a lot of playing time last year -- so I got to watch film on that and grow off that and find what I need to work on."

Noland said he likes the idea of more quarterbacks being added to the roster, such as graduate transfer enrollee Ben Hicks and signee Nick Starkel, who is expected to arrive this summer.

"No doubt, I love the competition," he said.

From an injury and illness standpoint, defensive end Dorian Gerald and offensive tackle Noah Gatlin were still sidelined, and joined by linebacker Giovanni LaFrance, who has caught a flulike ailment that is going around the locker room.

Linebacker Deon Edwards dressed out after being slowed Tuesday.

Parker said he's getting plenty of action at "Mike" linebacker behind Grant Morgan with starter De'Jon "Scoota" Harris out this spring with a foot injury.

"Definitely, with Scoota being out, it's an opportunity for me to get a lot of reps," he said. "I've been in there a lot, running and banging."

Tight end Cheyenne O'Grady said the defense had a stronger day than the offense in the team periods at the end of practice.

"The offense, just as a group, we weren't really doing that well," O'Grady said. "We didn't bring it today, so we're going to try to come back and be better on Saturday and try to establish who we really are and what we can do."

The Razorbacks are scheduled for a significant scrimmage Saturday morning. If the projected storms hold off or move through, the closed workout will be inside Reynolds Razorback Stadium. If not, practice No. 5 of spring will be inside the Walker Pavilion.

Sports on 03/08/2019

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