Smallwood On ’14 Arrest: ‘I Never Did Any Of That’
West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood led the Big 12 in rushing last season with more than 1,500 yards, but the Eagles were able to draft him in the fifth round, potentially in part because of off-the-field concerns.
In July of 2014, Smallwood was charged with witness intimidation in relation to a murder case. According to the Delaware News Journal, the charges were officially dropped after Smallwood’s friend pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
“I never came to anyone, tried to give them — as they were saying — recanted statements or anything like that. I never tried to get someone out of something. I never did any of that. I think it came to light at the end of the day, and that’s why the DA made the decisions they did,” Smallwood said at his introductory press conference.
“I was just in the wrong situation and I was young hanging out with the wrong people. … I just learned from the situation and I’m just trying to move forward and be a better man from that.”
Prosecutors said at the time that there was no evidence Smallwood threatened the woman, although there was a recording of Smallwood and his friend discussing how to get the witness to change her story. The fatal shooting occurred in April of 2012, when Smallwood was in high school.
Howie Roseman said the Eagles are confident that Smallwood did nothing wrong, and that they felt comfortable with drafting Smallwood after meeting him and learning more about him. Smallwood reiterated that he was innocent.
“(Charges) weren’t dropped just because of the guilty plea, they ended up having no evidence against me,” Smallwood said. “A witness never came forward and said I intimidated anyone or anything like that. It ultimately came down to them finding out that I was innocent and I never did anything wrong in the situation.”
Inappropriate tweets, some of which Smallwood sent five years ago, also garnered attention soon after the Delaware native was drafted. While Roseman said the Eagles don’t condone what Smallwood said, the running back apologized for it.
“I was young,” Smallwood said. “It was really embarrassing and I don’t believe anything I said. I’ve definitely grown from that since that stuff was sent out. I definitely learned from it and I don’t want anyone to feel any kind of way about it. I’m sorry about it if I offended anybody, but that’s not how I feel. That’s not the kind of person I am. Hopefully I get to show that through these years in the professional league.”
Smallwood later deleted his Twitter account and said he doesn’t plan on re-activitating it. He added that no one ordered him to take it down, and that he didn’t do so before the draft because he hadn’t thought about the tweets since he sent them out.