ARLINGTON, Texas — On Wednesday, the day before the NFL draft, Derrius Guice talked about his NFL experience so far.
“Everything about it is surprising,” he said.
It got far more surprising, and not in a good way.
The LSU running back became a magnet for all kinds of negative labels as he plummeted from a likely first-round pick to the back end of the second round. By the time the Washington Redskins chose him at 59th overall, Guice was no longer at JerryWorld. He went from a VIP to the draft’s biggest question mark.
“Everybody is saying I have character issues,” Guice said Wednesday. “I’m a hothead. Problems off the field. There’s been no record of any problems. Never been in trouble with the law. Never been suspended or anything. I’m great in the community; I saved a woman’s life the other week. Always interacting with fans.”
The major issue came when Guice accused a team of asking him about his sexual identity and whether his mother was a prostitute. That’s a major charge, and the NFL took it extremely seriously. The league investigated and found no wrongdoing. So either there was a major cover-up – unlikely – or Guice had fabricated a story about a potential future employer.
That will certainly cost a player some credibility. Guice didn’t get selected Thursday.
Things got only worse.
When reached by Yahoo Sports’ Charles Robinson for comment on who allegedly asked the improper questions to Guice, a source close to the player said, “he doesn’t remember.”
As several running backs went to other teams, reports emerged on the NFL Network that Guice had been late for meetings, left a bad impression with teams and had immaturity problems, and that there was an unreported incident from his time at LSU that could cause embarrassment for a team that drafted him.
That could be anything. Was it a Laremy Tunsil situation, or worse?
The story will follow Guice to D.C., as he’ll either be asked about the mysterious incident or, if it comes to light, his role in that incident.
It was clear even before the draft began that Guice was bewildered by the slights. He did an array of interviews as part of a visit to the P&G Style Lounge on Wednesday and he expressed his confusion almost right away to Yahoo Sports.
“I’m getting all this backlash that I’m a terrible dude off the field,” he said. “Off the field I literally do nothing.
“The stuff is coming out of the middle of nowhere,” he added, theorizing that it may have been from a specific team or “agent talk.”
“When teams call me in, they see what kind of guy I am,” Guice said, almost in a plea. “I’m the most fun–loving, personality guy.”
He does have an inspiring life story, rising to a star role at LSU after losing his dad to gun violence when he was 6 years old. At one point during his childhood in a poor area of Baton Rouge, he stayed with a guidance counselor. Just last month he came upon a car accident and helped a woman out of her wrecked car.
“I risked my life in a way,” he said Wednesday. “The car could have blown up, anything. I sacrificed for her.”
But the NFL doesn’t much care for personal sacrifice if you make scandalous and unsubstantiated claims about its teams’ vetting process. And if there are other issues that didn’t emerge through that process, it’s hard to justify a first-round pick.
Then again, if this supposed incident at LSU never happened or isn’t a big deal, Guice just got downgraded for some of the wrong reasons. He was one of the few players invited to be present for the first night, so why didn’t any of this come out sooner? There isn’t much disagreement about his top-round talent. He ran for 11 touchdowns and more than 1,200 yards as a junior after Leonard Fournette went to the pros.
Guice has a chance to make Redskins fans forget about the rumors and innuendo of draft week, though it’s likely he’ll never forget. Even on Wednesday, when he still had first-round hopes, he admitted he wasn’t fully prepared for the whirlwind of the draft.
“Trying to get some rest,” he said. “It’s tough.”
It will be even tougher now.
More from Yahoo Sports:
• How not to announce an NFL draft pick
• Former Eagles kicker savagely trolls Cowboys fans
• Browns parlay landmark trade into bruising back
• Bills captain: JoshAllen will have to explain controversial tweets