West Virginia running back accused of intimidating witness in murder case

Sam Cooper
Dr. Saturday
West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood (4)  carries the ball toward the end zone as Georgia State's  Demarius Matthews (5) chases during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game in Morgantown, W.Va., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. West Virginia won 41-7
West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood (4) carries the ball toward the end zone as Georgia State's Demarius Matthews (5) chases during the fourth quarter of an NCAA college football game in Morgantown, W.Va., on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013. West Virginia won 41-7. (AP Photo/Christopher Jackson)

A running back who was expected to play a big role in West Virginia’s offense in 2014 is facing some serious legal issues.

According to MetroNews, sophomore back Wendell Smallwood was arrested on campus Monday and “faces extradition to his home state of Delaware.” Smallwood, 20, will reportedly be charged with witness intimidation related to a murder case from 2012.

Per The News Journal, Wilmington (Del.) Cpl. Mark Ivey said that “on multiple occasions,” Smallwood tried to convince a witness to recant statements which would implicate his friend for first-degree murder.

The murder, which took the life of Wilmington resident Manuel Oliveras, took place on April 14, 2012. Zakee Lloyd, who was 19 at the time of the incident, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in January. Lloyd is currently awaiting trial.

According to Ivey, Smallwood called and tried to convince the witness to “make a false statement to police recanting previous statements” that would implicate Lloyd.

It is not known when Smallwood will be transported back to Delaware, police said.

As a true freshman for the Mountaineers, Smallwood ran for 221 yards on 39 carries – third best on the team. Smallwood, who ran for one score, also caught 11 passes for 132 yards and returned 30 kickoffs for 541 yards. He was expected to fill the void left by third-round NFL draft pick Charles Sims, who ran for 1,095 yards last year.

Smallwood was praised by several offensive coaches for his play during spring practice, per MetroNews.

“That kid is skilled, but he’s got the mental capacity to handle a lot of different things. We’re trying to push the limits to what we can do with that kid,” said offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson.

Running backs coach JaJuan Seider called Smallwood, a Rivals three-star recruit in 2013, the team’s “most-improved player” by season’s end.

Instead of having an advanced role in the WVU offense, Smallwood’s future is now uncertain.

For more West Virginia news, visit WVSports.com.

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Sam Cooper is a contributor for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!