SEC Media Days report:

Agim pays tribute to his cousin with Chucky doll

By: Bob Holt , Tom Murphy
Published: Thursday, July 18, 2019
Arkansas defensive lineman McTelvin Agim speaks to reporters during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days, Wednesday, July 17, 2019, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Arkansas defensive lineman McTelvin Agim speaks to reporters during the NCAA college football Southeastern Conference Media Days, Wednesday, July 17, 2019, in Hoover, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

HOOVER, Ala. -- Get ready for the return of Chucky this fall, though it's not another sequel in the Child's Play horror film franchise.

University of Arkansas defensive tackle McTelvin Agim recently acquired a Chucky Doll that he takes wherever he goes, including his appearance at SEC Media Days on Wednesday.

"Basically Chucky represents my little cousin that was murdered about a year ago," Agim said. "He's basically a representation I can always keep with me. He was never able to make it to a game, so now he'll be able to make it to every game this year."

Agim's cousin, John Neal, was found dead at age 19 with apparent gunshot wounds in a partially burned vehicle in Texarkana, Texas, in March 2018, according to a story in the Texarkana Gazette. The murder has not been solved, Agim said.

Neal would have turned 21 on Tuesday, according to Agim.

"John was one of my rocks," Agim said. "It's like when they took him, they took a part of me as well.

"It means a lot that I can put his name on a big platform. We never found out who killed him. It's an unsolved murder. But it's still good to be able to put his name out there and make sure everybody knows he still lives on."

[RELATED: Search for success: After sad ‘18, Hogs football team looks to flip script »]

Agim has written "Love Live John Neal" on the bottom of the shoes of the Chucky Doll, which he said he bought about thee weeks ago.

"I'm on his side," Arkansas linebacker De'Jon "Scoota" Harris said. "I know it represents one of his cousins that passed. He came and talked to me about it."

Foot update

Arkansas linebacker De'Jon "Scoota" Harris rated himself at nearing 100 percent in his recovery from foot surgery this spring. Harris said the surgery repaired a Jones fracture on his right foot, which is a break between the base and the middle part of the fifth metatarsal.

"I just got my last X-ray last week," Harris said. "My foot has healed. The screws have healed 100 percent. I've just got a little bit of soreness from working out on it, but I'm fine now.

"I feel like I'm about 85 percent right now, maybe 90. Like I said, the soreness just depends on how hard I was working the week before, like cutting on it. The last two weeks I've been forcing myself to cut on my foot more than ever just to start getting the feel right now instead of waiting for the season."

Holy Moses!

Alabama's Dylan Moses opened up a can of worms Wednesday.

The linebacker chalked up Alabama's 44-16 loss to Clemson in the College Football Playoff championship game to lack of preparation and added "Clemson was not the better team" during his stint at SEC Media Days.

[WALLY HALL: Hogs do well following the main attraction »]

Moses also added "Georgia is definitely the hardest team I have played in college."

Moses' comments happened to come on the same day Clemson appeared at the ACC Football Kickoff in Charlotte, N.C.

"Heh, heh, I don't know what I'm supposed to say," Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney said, chuckling. "We were the better team that day, so that's all that matters."

New roles

Arkansas Coach Chad Morris said there had been two position changes since the end of spring practice, with junior D'Vone McClure moving from nickel back to weak-side linebacker and sophomore Daulton Hyatt going from quarterback to wide receiver.

"That doesn't mean we couldn't move him back to quarterback, but a guy that's athletic," Morris said. "That was something that he wanted and we both talked about coming into summer. He's a guy that there's no reason he can't be a four-corps guy on our special teams."

Linebacker De'Jon Harris said the 6-2, 215-pound McClure, who goes by the nickname "Pluck," would be fine at his new position.

"He has a lot of experience from last year," Harris said. "The Will is kind of similar to the nickel spot. He just had to adjust to the linebacker techniques."

He's No. 2 ... or 3

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey, noting that Dan Marino played quarterback at Pittsburgh Central Catholic, introduced Mississippi State Coach Joe Moorhead as the second-most famous quarterback to come out of that school.

Moorhead took the podium and called that ranking into doubt.

"Marc Bulger might disagree with that second-best quarterback out of Pittsburgh Central Catholic," Moorhead said. "We'll have to check on those rankings."

Moorhead added he wore jersey No. 13 early in high school to honor Marino before the jersey was retired prior to his junior year.

Moorhead made a public request for Marino to give him a follow back on Twitter, saying he had tried the "follow-unfollow trick" numerous times.

"If Dan's out there and he's listening, I'm asking for a follow," Moorhead said. "I'll have a cold case of Iron City waiting on him."

Bigger, still fast

McTelvin Agim, who has played end and tackle on Arkansas' defensive line, is expected to play primarily inside this season.

With that in mind, Agim said he's built up to 296 pounds after playing at 280 last season.

"This is the biggest I've been, but I actually feel really good," Agim said. "I'm still moving the same, still got the same wind. So it's been no problem at all. I haven't lost anything."

2 Hogs on list

Arkansas running backs Rakeem Boyd and Devwah Whaley made the Doak Walker Award watch list released Wednesday.

The award is presented annually to the nation's top college running back and is named after three-time All-America Doak Walker. Darren McFadden (Pulaski Oak Grove) won the award as a Razorback in 2006 and 2007.

Boyd, a junior, led Arkansas with 734 rushing yards on 123 carries last season. Whaley, a senior, rushed 98 times for 368 yards. He has 1,529 career rushing yards.

What's the secret?

Alabama Coach Nick Saban was asked Wednesday whether he had come across some coaching secret for program building that gave him the upper hand on opposing coaches.

"No, I don't really know the secret to the success other than, you know, we worked hard and we've been in some really good situations through the years," Saban said.

"I can't really pinpoint anything. I know it comes from having really good people in your organization.

"I'm sort of a perfectionist by nature and I know you can't be perfect, but we're always working to try to close the gap on perfect."

Small club

South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley knew the drill at SEC Media Days on Wednesday as he went through a heavy schedule of interviews.

"It's a lot less stressful when you've done it three times now," Bentley said. "The first two times were a little more stressful than this time."

Bentley became the fifth player with three SEC Media Days appearances. The others are Mississippi State's Wayne Madkin (1999-2001), Vanderbilt quarterback Jay Culter (2003-05), Vanderbilt running back Ralph Webb (2015-17) and South Carolina receiver and kick returner Deebo Samuel (2016-18).

Moorhead shapes up

Mississippi State Coach Joe Moorhead weighed about 50 pounds lighter during his second SEC Media Days appearance Wednesday than he did at his debut.

"I was tired of all the recruits on the trail asking me if I played right or left tackle rather than how many yards I passed for in college," Moorhead said. "So that was part of it."

Moorhead played quarterback at Fordham from 1992-95.

Ready to go

Arkansas freshmen wide receiver Treylon Burks and defensive back Jalen Catalon have fully recovered from knee surgeries, Coach Chad Morris said.

"They're doing really well," Morris said. "They've gone through all the summer workouts. They haven't been modified at all.

"They were fully recovered when they arrived in early June. So these guys have done a great job of just jumping in and getting involved in the player-led workouts."

New punter

Sam Loy, a junior transfer who is eligible to play for Arkansas this season, will compete for the punting job with sophomore Reid Bauer.

Loy redshirted last season at Colorado, where he transferred from Vanderbilt after being the Commodores' punter in 2016 and 2017. He averaged 41.6 yards on 68 punts as freshman and 40.2 yards on 64 as a sophomore.

The Razorbacks averaged 37.5 yards on punts last season, including Bauer's 56 attempts for a 38.9 average.

"Punting has been an issue for us," Coach Chad Morris said. "It's been a big concern for us. We're not consistent in a lot of areas and punting being the main area.

"We felt that we had to go out and bring in a veteran guy and create some competition, which I think we'll do that. I'm excited to see these guys compete."

Sports on 07/18/2019


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