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WVU's Wendell Smallwood faces charges of witness intimidation

Christopher Jackson/Associated Press
Wendell Smallwood is in line to play a big role in West Virginia's offense.

West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood, a projected starter this fall, has been arrested and faces charges of witness intimidation stemming from a 2012 murder case.

WVMetronews.com reported that West Virginia University police declined to discuss details of Monday's arrest, in which Smallwood was identified as an out-of-state fugitive. Smallwood is from Wilmington, Del.

The News-Journal of Wilmington reported that police said Smallwood, 20, repeatedly attempted to convince a witness to recant statements implicating a friend, identified as Zakee Lloyd, who has been charged with first-degree murder and is awaiting trial.

The News-Journal report said police allege that on multiple occasions in March and May 2013, Smallwood "called to try to get a witness to come and make a false statement to police recanting previous statements" that implicated Lloyd. Smallwood enrolled at WVU in January 2013.

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Smallwood (5-foot-11, 200 pounds) played in every game last season, starting one. He rushed for 221 Yards and a TD on 39 carries and also had 11 receptions. In addition, he was WVU's main kick returner.

His versatility made him a prime prospect to replace Charles Sims -- a third-round pick in the 2014 draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- as the Mountaineers' starting running back. Pitt transfer Rushel Shell and senior Dreamius Smith also are in the mix for the starting job.

Offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson spoke highly of Smallwood during spring practice in April: "He's versatile. We're finding a lot of ways to get him the ball. That kid's skilled."

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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