So Jamal Agnew, what's it like to be the fastest man in the FCS?
Agnew, the star defensive back from San Diego's Pioneer League championship team this year, was a bit stunned to find out that his 4.32-second time in the 40 yard dash was the top recorded time among hundreds of FCS players who hit their Pro Days. In fact, his time would have placed fourth at the NFL combine behind Washington's John Ross (4.22), Minnesota's Jalen Myrick (4.28) and Ohio State's Curtis Samuel (4.31).
Agnew is fast, fast, fast. He also had the FCS' top 20-second split — obviously proving quickness. The funny thing about Agnew is he isn't all "measurables". He's not just another young man who lets his numbers speak because he doesn't have the ability to articulate himself. Quite the opposite is true — he played non-scholarship football in the Pioneer League at an outstanding school, USD. Along with the tangibles, his intangibles are just as strong.
This guy can cover a receiver. Agnew has gone toe to toe with the FBS' San Diego State, he played a big part in his team's first-ever FCS Playoff win over Cal-Poly, and he went up against mighty North Dakota State. Scholarship or not, he's a great face for San Diego football — and he's going to have an NFL contract soon, whether it's via the draft or free agency. He and teammate Jonah Hodges have impressed this spring. Agnew is said by NFLDraftScout.com to be anywhere from a 6th round draft pick to a high priority free agent pickup.
Hodges, a Cal transfer, is trending upwards and rated the No. 49 running back in the class — meaning he should have a contract soon after the draft, and could be a special teams contributor also.
"I think what separates the Pioneer Football League from the rest of the FCS and the FBS is just the determination," Agnew told HERO Sports. "The guys in the PFL were told they were too small or not fast enough, or they were guys who got beat out for scholarship at bigger FCS or FBS schools. I think Pioneer League players want it more. You constantly have that chip on your shoulder, and after you've developed a bit more in college, you still don't lose that chip on your shoulder."
Agnew's Pro Day experience helped him blow open the door with the NFL realm, as opposed to fighting to bust the lock. Agnew said the New York Jets, the Tennessee Titans and the Detroit Lions have been in contact the most, and he's been in Detroit and visited the Cincinnati Bengals. He also has been in contact with the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Diego Chargers.
This process could easily have gone like his high school recruiting experience went. Agnew told HERO Sports he didn't get many looks coming out of high school. As a sophomore he had 6 interceptions, and that got some letters flowing and he received mail from schools like UCLA and Nebraska and began wondering if he might end up playing at that level. But he admits he was only 5-foot-8, 165 pounds "soaking wet" and the letters were all the attention from that level that he ever received.
"When teams realized how small I was, the letters even became less frequent," Agnew said. "So in my senior year I came to the realization that I'm probably not going to go D-I. USD showed interest in me and Cal-Poly wanted me as a preferred walk-on, and Idaho State also offered me preferred walk-on, but I figured I might as well stay in my home town of San Diego. And I don't regret a thing. I got to play in my hometown, where I've been my whole life. I was able to keep living at home for three years with no rent or anything, and a home-cooked meal.
"It has really worked out well."
Indeed it has.