FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas defensive end McTelvin Agim didn’t think his full abilities were on display last season. In a 3-4 defensive scheme, he often was stuck taking on blocks and clogging running lanes rather than moving upfield to make plays.
Agim’s assignments will be far different now, though. With John Chavis taking over as defensive coordinator, the Hogs’ primary defense is back to featuring four defensive linemen.
Agim is at end this spring, where he is more likely to find himself in 1-on-1 situations and able to show off his ability to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. He played the same spot as a freshman in a 4-3 defense before Arkansas made what would be a temporary switch last season.
“I like being back on the edge again,” Agim said. “I like the 4-3 because we’re actually going. In the 3-4 last year, we were mostly just sitting back a lot. Now we can actually show our athletic ability.”
Agim also is excited about the opportunity to play for Chavis. Texas A&M was one of Agim’s top choices as a 5-star recruit in the 2016 class. That was in large part because of Chavis, who was then the Aggies’ defensive coordinator.
The optimism of playing for Chavis is warranted. Texas A&M led the SEC with an average of 4 sacks per game (32 total) against conference opponents last season. The Aggies also led the conference in tackles for loss per SEC game each of the last two seasons.
“I was definitely excited when I heard it was Chavis,” Agim said. “I know what he did at LSU, at Tennessee and at A&M, so I know what he does with the D-line. He’s going to send people. He’s not going to make you sit back on your heels. You’re not catching or nothing, you’re going. Always attacking and it’s an attacking defense.”
Agim already has started changing his body to be better suited for the new system. He is at 280 pounds — a loss of 10 pounds from last season — this spring. He already is noticing the benefits of those changes through a few practices.
“I feel like I’m going to be able to show my athletic ability more being able to lose that weight and being able to be back on the edge,” Agim said.
Now that he is in his third year on campus, Agim is being looked to as a leader on defense. He is not shying away from taking on the importance of that role, either. He desperately wants to lead the way in helping Arkansas’ defense turn things around after being woeful as a group in his first two seasons.
“His motor runs full, full wide open,” Arkansas coach Chad Morris said. “I mean, I’m trying to slow him down in walk-through. ‘Man, Sosa, slow down.’ He’s very much respected among his peers.
“He’s asking questions, and he’s not afraid to come and talk to you. That’s important. It takes an older guy to approach the head coach and just come and talk. That’s been impressive.”