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.