HOPE -- McTelvin Agim can't escape the attention.
It comes with the territory when you are the state's top high school football recruit, especially if you are considered among the nation's top prospects and have the University of Arkansas among the final four colleges you are considering.
POSITION Defensive end
WEIGHT 268 pounds
NOTEWORTHY Preseason All-Arkansas Preps first-team defense selection this season. … Recorded 72 tackles, 22 sacks, 13 pass knockdowns, 6 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries as a junior last season. … Had 77 tackles, 32 for a loss, and 16 sacks in 2013 as a sophomore. … Invited to The Opening in July at the Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. … Received more than 20 college scholarship offers. Final four narrowed down to Arkansas, Baylor, Mississippi and Texas A&M.
Hope's 6-2, 268-pound senior defensive end is a five-star recruit ranked by ESPN as the nation's No. 9 overall prospect and No. 2 defensive end. He has received more than 20 scholarship offers from some of the most storied programs in college football, including Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Notre Dame.
It seems everyone in Arkansas -- at least among college football fans -- is waiting to see which of his four finalists Agim will choose. Will it be Arkansas? Could it be SEC rivals Ole Miss or Texas A&M? Baylor is in the mix, too.
"Everywhere he goes, the reporter that covers that school is constantly on him, asking about where he's going," Hope Coach Jay Turley said. "It's become an issue for him, and he'll be glad to get it over with."
Agim admits as much, but he seemed at ease Monday. He said he plans to announce his decision Saturday during a family reunion at his grandmother's house in Texarkana, Texas.
"I feel like I'm ready to close that chapter of my life and be ready to help this school recruit and get to the next level, to get there and chase a national championship," said Agim, a first-team defensive selection on the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's All-Arkansas Preps preseason team.
Agim is coming off a strong junior season, one in which he recorded 72 tackles, 22 sacks, knocked down 13 passes, forced 6 fumbles and recovered 3. That was enough to earn him an invitation to take part in The Opening during the summer.
The Opening is a Nike-sponsored event in Beaverton, Ore., that features the nation's top 166 college football prospects. There he went up against some of the nation's top offensive linemen, including Jack Anderson of Frisco, Texas, TCU commitment Austin Myers of Manvel, Texas and Greg Little of Allen, Texas.
Agim said he looked forward to the competition throughout the offseason.
"Going in I felt like I was the best, so here was a chance for me to prove it," he said. "It was a chance for me to go up against who they say is the best and they can compare me to them. I wanted to prove that I've been working. It was like college. We had roommates. We had curfew.
"It was fun, though. It was a great experience."
He didn't stop there.
Agim also participated in a CrossFit workout program during the offseason. Part of that training included a workout known as The Murph, which is named after Michael Murphy, a Navy Seal who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005. The military-style workout includes a mile run at the start, 200 pushups, 300 air squats and second mile run at the end.
mile run at the start, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 air squats and another mile run at the end. The Murph is named after Michael Murphy, 29, a Navy Seal who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005.
"It pushed me to a different mind-set," Agim said. "It was real tough. It challenges your mind a lot. It's getting me ready for college."
Agim's road to college football has been filled with twists and turns.
He was born in Dallas and lived in the suburb of Rowlett before moving to Texarkana, Texas. He then moved back to Rowlett, where he played football as a freshman before moving to Emmett, a town of approximately 500 located in Nevada County in southwest Arkansas.
He played basketball for Blevins High School -- Emmett didn't have a school and Blevins didn't play football -- before moving for a third time in the same school year when his mother Deanna Giddens moved to Hope to pursue a nursing degree at the University of Arkansas Community College.
Things took off from there for Agim. He gained about 35 pounds between his freshman and sophomore seasons, playing at 245 pounds in his first season with the Bobcats. Agim racked up 77 tackles that season, including 32 for losses and 16 sacks, while helping Hope advance to the semifinals of the Class 5A playoffs.
Agim was named the Arkansas Democrat Gazette's All-Arkansas Preps Sophomore Defensive Player of the Year for 2013 and crashed onto the national recruiting scene in the process.
He hasn't slowed down since.
Agim has a 3.6 grade-point average and said he plans to graduate in December so he can enroll in college in January and go through spring football practice. He took two classes, history and physical science, during the summer and is taking a college English class and a college algebra class this fall.
Of the 24 1/2 high school credits he's earned, he's taken 13 hours for college credit, which equals one semester of college coursework.
"I felt like it was best for me," Agim said. "My sister graduated [college] at 20 and was a registered nurse, so I have to live up to that."
Hope failed to make the playoffs last season, finishing 3-7, but Agim will lead a defense that returns seven starters for a team that returns 21 seniors. He said he believes that experience will pay off with another trip to the playoffs.
"I feel good," Agim said. "We're fast. The scheme we're going to run, it's going to be hard for people to key on any one person. I feel like we're going to be tough to beat."
Sports on 08/30/2015