5th-round RB Wendell Smallwood Answers for Checkered Past

Instead of simply celebrating, Wendell Smallwood spent a portion of his draft day answering tough questions about his checkered past.

The Eagles took Smallwood, a junior running back out of West Virginia, in the fifth round on Saturday (see story). It was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for the Wilmington, Delaware native, to be drafted by the team he grew up rooting for.

But it was his more recent past that drew some red flags, from an arrest on a witness tampering charge in a murder case, to the resurfacing of old tweets that were offensive in nature.

"I was just in a wrong situation," Smallwood said of the 2014 arrest. "I was young, I was with the wrong people. I wasn't never around when whatever happened, I wasn't involved. There was no evidence, no witness against me. And it came out to be true and all the stuff was cleared and I just learned from the situation and moved forward and be a better man from that."

In 2014, Smallwood was charged with trying to get a witness to recant statements that implicated his friend in a murder case. After that friend pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, Smallwood's charges were dropped.

Smallwood, however, on Saturday, claimed his charges weren't dropped because of the guilty plea, but because of a lack of evidence against him.

Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman said the team spent time looking into Smallwood's past and was comfortable enough with its findings to draft the 5-foot-10, 208-pound running back in the fifth round.

Roseman pointed to the fact that the school reinstated Smallwood and even made him the face of the school at their media day.

"First, he didn't do anything wrong," Roseman said. "He went to go see a relative and there was no indication that anything he did was wrong in that."

If the charges from his past weren't enough on Saturday, fans began to dig up many of Smallwood's tweets from five or six years ago.

Several of the tweets were offensive or insensitive in nature, while some were negatively directed toward the city of Philadelphia.

Roseman said the organization looks into social media throughout the draft process and was aware of Smallwood's twitter account. The running back said the team did address his social media usage during the pre-draft process.

"The stuff on Twitter, I was young," Smallwood said. "It was 2011 or 10. It was real embarrassing and I don't believe anything I said. I've definitely grown 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 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 a professional league."

Shortly after Smallwood was drafted and those tweets started to resurface, the running back deleted his Twitter account. He claimed no one instructed him to delete his account – he did so on his own, because he was "embarrassed."

Smallwood was the Big 12's leading rusher in 2015 with 1,519 yards, but wasn't drafted until the fifth round. He thinks the character concerns could have dropped his stock.

"I think just this organization trusted and believed in me and had the confidence in me to know that that's not the person I am," Smallwood said. "And the guy they met is what they get, and that's a great man, who's honest and respectful and truthful."

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