The PA announcer in Lucas Oil Stadium told the assembled teams Saturday morning that Alabama offensive tackle Andre Smith, one of the top prospects in the April NFL draft, had gone AWOL.
While he made the announcement, Smith was in the air, flying to Atlanta to go meet with his personal trainer for the first of two previously scheduled workouts. After he landed, and questions were raised, Smith explained that he made a mistake in failing to communicate to the people at the combine that he was leaving Indianapolis earlier than previously scheduled.
Smith had been booked on a 4 p.m. flight but moved it up himself to 6 a.m. so he could get back to work out with his trainer and continue preparations for his March 11 Pro Day at the University of Alabama.
"If I had the chance to do it all over, I wouldn't have handled it the way I did," Smith said Saturday afternoon in his first public comments on the incident. "I should have told my group leader that I was leaving, and I didn't. I didn't mean to ruffle any feathers or step on any toes. I didn't mean to grandstand anyone at the combine. That was not my intention at all, and I apologize for my mistake."
Knowing he was not going to work out, Smith thought he had accomplished everything he had wanted. He weighed in for NFL scouts at 332 pounds, interviewed with the teams, answered any questions teams had about any potential weight issues, and even told teams that he was unsure whether he was going to work out Saturday. Then, when the day came, and the announcement was made, no one at the combine knew where Smith was or what he had done. But once he felt like he had satisfied his requirements Friday night, Smith changed his flight, headed out of town, and raised questions amongst teams.
"It was an obvious miscommunication," said Smith's agent, Alvin Keels. "Even I can shoulder some of the blame for the mishap. But Andre is focused on getting ready for his Pro Day and showing teams what a good pro he will be."
The reason Smith opted not to work out at the combine in the first place was because he had switched trainers one week ago and didn't feel comfortable enough with the new regimen to impress teams the way he hopes. But Smith now realizes his mistake and is focused on pushing ahead.
"I got done in Indianapolis what I thought I should have, but I realize there was more to it now," Smith said. "It was important for me to get back to my trainer and that's what I did. All I was thinking about was what it would take to get to the next level."