NORMAN — Wednesday was supposed to be former Oklahoma wide receiver Malcolm Kelly's opportunity to impress NFL scouts. Instead, the morning's focus veered toward Kelly's budding acrimony with the Sooner coaching staff. "Certain people have tried to hold me down, and they know who they are,” Kelly said after the workout. "I wouldn't say the whole OU coaching staff, but certain people, I would say that.” Kelly was upset after running a pedestrian 4.68 seconds in the 40-yard dash. He placed blame on the OU strength staff and accused them of failing to notify him ahead of time that the testing was going to be on the Everest Indoor Training Center's field turf instead of the Mosier Center's AstroTurf, a surface on which Kelly had been training the last month. OU strength and conditioning coach Jerry Schmidt said the location was decided on Wednesday morning by scouts, who felt the field turf at the Everest Center would be more comparable to the surface run on at the NFL Scouting Combine. Kelly also accused OU of "misdiagnosing” a December thigh injury, which kept him from participating in the Fiesta Bowl and from training for the NFL Draft until last month. Kelly said he was told by OU doctors that he had a deep thigh bruise, though a February MRI revealed he had suffered a partial quadriceps tear. Kelly charged that he could've played in the Fiesta Bowl had he been diagnosed correctly in the beginning and that the OU staff risked his pro career by encouraging him to play through the pain without properly treating the injury. "They told me it was a thigh bruise and to try and play through it. A deep thigh bruise hurts, you're in lot of pain, but it doesn't feel like someone is pulling at it or stabbing you in the leg,” Kelly said. "I tried to tell everybody it was worse than a thigh bruise. They told me it wasn't that bad, to go out there and run, that it was all in my mind. If I had gone out there in the bowl game and run full speed, where would I be? Nowhere. I'd be sitting at home right now rehabbing. Then people say, trust in what they say, they're not going to steer you wrong. "If I had sat out from the time I messed it up, I would've been ready a week before the bowl game and could've played. It frustrates me a whole lot, the fact that I could've played and the fact that I knew it was something else and I was being told differently. I sat out the game. People were mad. But I wasn't going to injure myself or go out there and run half-speed and mess up the team.” Sooner coach Bob Stoops said Kelly never practiced after suffering the thigh injury and took issue with Kelly's accusations that OU's doctors erred. "I don't think that is fair,” Stoops said. "A lot of deep tissue injuries take a while to figure out. Our doctors do as good a job as anybody in the country. Regardless of what his injury was, misdiagnosed or not, it was a deep tissue injury. He never played. It isn't like he played a game and re-hurt it. He would not have done anything different than he's done, which is rest it for a long period of time, which he did, and rehab it.” Stoops said Kelly's assertion that he would've been able to play had the tear been found earlier is off-base. "He didn't do anything the whole time before we went to the Fiesta Bowl. He didn't practice once,” Stoops said. "He didn't practice at the Fiesta Bowl, even though we tried to warm him up. It's not realistic for that injury to heal that fast.” Wednesday, OU spokesman Kenny Mossman conferred with members of the Sooner training staff, who said that Kelly was initially diagnosed with a bruise, but that the injury was later upgraded to a strain within 48 hours. According to Mossman, OU's treatment of a partial quadriceps tear and a quadriceps strain is virtually the same: inactivity. Kelly, who declared early for the NFL Draft days after the Fiesta Bowl, caught 49 passes for 821 yards and nine touchdowns last season, a drop-off from his sophomore total in 2006 when he reeled in 62 catches for 993 yards and 10 touchdowns. Kelly's relationship with the Sooner coaches appeared to take a wrong turn midway through last season when he failed to register a catch in a 27-24 loss at Colorado. "The opportunity was there,” Kelly said then after the game. "I guess that's just the way the dice rolled.” Wednesday, he finally erupted. "I had everything set up for where I wanted to (run) at,” said Kelly, who had a heated argument with Schmidt after the workout, at one point even throwing his cleats into the turf. "I get up here this morning and it's a whole different deal. I was slipping all over the place during my drill work. I can't say I'm pleased with anything today.” Kelly's trainer, Chip Smith, said he was disappointed Kelly wasn't informed ahead of time that testing was going to be conducted on the field turf. "Malcolm had been mentally prepared to run on the (AstroTurf), which a lot of universities do, so to change that when you walk in not knowing, I think there should've at least been a courtesy call to him to tell him they were going to change it,” said Smith, who has helped prepare more than 800 players for the draft over the years. "On a fast surface, he's probably a 4.4. We didn't even have the right shoes for him to run in. We had to make adjustments.” Kelly — who wasn't cleared until March 20 for full training because of the quadriceps tear — said he had been preparing for the three weeks in Atlanta to test on AstroTurf, on which he said he had been running the 40 in under 4.50 seconds. Schmidt said he had both the Mosier and Everest centers ready for testing, but that the scouts requested in the morning the workout be held on the field turf. OU held its first pro day last month on the same field turf in the Everest Center. "Malcolm can run anywhere he wants, but the NFL people wanted it on the closest to a surface that they play on,” Schmidt said. "That's like a track surface in (the Mosier Center) and they're going to adjust the times, which is not fair to the kid.” According to Mossman, Gil Brandt of NFL.com phoned OU athletic director Joe Castiglione on Wednesday afternoon and said that he and the other scouts would've added time to Kelly's 40 had he run on AstroTurf to account for the faster surface. Wednesday was an important day for Kelly, who had more than 35 NFL scouts and coaches in town to watch him, including Buffalo Bills Vice President of College Scouting Tom Modrak, Bills offensive coordinator Turk Schonert and Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski. Kelly measured in at 6-feet, 3 7/10 -inches and 227 pounds. He reached 32 inches in the vertical jump and 9-feet, 11-inches in the broad jump. He posted times of 4.17 in the short shuttle, 11.85 in the long shuttle and 7.11 in the three-cone drill.
Kelly looked especially sharp during receiving drills while catching passes from former Nebraska quarterback and 2001 Heisman Trophy winner Eric Crouch.
"I did real good in that area,” Kelly said. "I knew I was going to do good in that, that's natural.”
It remains to be seen if Kelly's 4.68 40-time will lower his stock in the April 26-27 draft, but it didn't help him with other potential first round receivers running faster times.
Limas Sweed recently posted a 4.50 in the 40 at Texas' pro day, held on field turf.
Michigan State's Devin Thomas ran a 4.38 at the NFL Combine.
After visiting with the Bills coaches, who have the No. 11 overall pick in the draft, Kelly ruled out running the 40 again.
"They told me they saw all they needed to see, that they saw the game film,” Kelly said, "and that I never got caught from behind.”
Kelly flew to Cincinnati immediately after the workout Wednesday along with Bratkowski to meet with Bengals officials.
He already visited Buffalo, and over the next week he's scheduled to meet with personnel from the Minnesota Vikings, Pittsburgh Steelers, Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys.
Kelly's criticism of OU overshadowed former Sooner defensive back Reggie Smith, who also tested in front of scouts for the first time.
Smith, who had been recovering from a broken big toe he suffered in the Big 12 Championship, leaped 39.5 inches in the vertical jump and ran a 4.65 in the 40.
"I could've done a lot better,” Smith said. "The surface was a little slower than I thought it was.
"I've seen a lot better times from myself and Kelly.”
Joe Jon Finley also worked out for the NFL scouts on Wednesday. by STEVE SISNEY, THE OKLAHOMAN