Can Terrelle Pryor Learn From Maurice Clarett?

By Jeff Beck on June 3, 2013 at 2:00p

The tale of Maurice Clarett is well-known among Buckeye faithful. The abridged version goes something like this:

A Freshman PhenomClarett's star once shone bright in Columbus

As a freshman, Clarett was an unbelievable talent, apparent from the moment he stepped on the field. 

In his first game as a Buckeye he tallied 175 rushing yards and three TDs against Texas Tech.

From there it was up-and-up as Clarett churned out 1,341 total yards, 18 total TDs, a game saving play and a national championship win.

As a freshman, Clarett helped a team reach college football’s pinnacle. Unfortunately, No. 13’s fall from the precipice would happen nearly as quickly.

The following season, Clarett was suspended from the team for accepting benefits. Around the same time, Maurice filed a phony police report alleging $10,000 worth of goods had been stolen from him.

Clarett then tried to enter the NFL draft, but was rebuffed due to the league’s rules stating a player must be at least three years out of H.S. to be eligible.

Clarett sued the league, and the case went all the way to the Supreme Court, where he lost.

Maurice spent the next two years in football purgatory. Unable to go to the NFL, he languished in a drug and alcohol induced haze.

In 2005, Maurice worked out at the combine and was drafted in the third round by the Denver Broncos. However, his partying lifestyle continued and he was cut from the team before the end of training camp.

Roughly a year later, Clarett was arrested for robbing a couple at gunpoint. Maurice attempted to pay off the victim, but the man refused, so Clarett decided to take matters into this own hands.

One month before his trial, he strapped on body armor and loaded weapons, got drunk on half a bottle of Grey Goose and took off for the man’s house.

Luckily, a cop pulled him over for an illegal U-turn before he could finish whatever he set out to do, and Clarett was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison.

Unlike so many inmates, the years behind bars gave Clarett a new perspective. The former RB cleared his head, broke his cycle of addiction and started to put his life back together.

Eventually Clarett was released for good behavior and has since made a complete turn-around.

Maurice has worked hard to change his once tarnished image in his home state. The most recent effort coming in the form of a charity basketball event hosted by his organization, The Comeback Project, aimed at providing a positive influence for the teenagers of the Youngstown/Warren region.

Once a Columbus pariah, Clarett has earned his way back into the good graces of Buckeye Nation.

Say the name Clarett in an OSU bar, and you’re likely to get a, “man, that guy has made a 180°”.

But, mention the name “Terrelle Pryor” and you’re liable to get the same reaction a “Maurice Clarett” would have scored you only a few years ago.

C-YaThe new Clarett

Pryor is the new Clarett. Former OSU star turned enemy of the program. Admittedly, his infractions are far less serious. Selling jerseys for cash isn’t in the same ballpark as donning an assault rifle and heading to a man’s house with bad intentions.

With that said, the level of animosity tossed Pryor’s way is Clarett-esque, which begs the question: could Pryor ever make a similar turn-around? Is it only a matter of time before Terrelle is accepted with open arms and invited back to Buckeye tailgates?

They say time heals all wounds, but Pryor opened a large one.

Hawking memorabilia for cash and improper benefits saddled Pryor with a 5-game suspension and eventually a full season of ineligibility.

However, a jump to the NFL via the supplemental draft allowed the former star to leave OSU relatively unscathed.

Less can be said for the Ohio State program which had to suffer the ouster of a living-legend, the deletion of the entire 2010 season, an abysmal 2011, a bowl-less 2012 and a media mud-slinging campaign that often went way too far.

2011 was a hard year to be a Buckeye. Fair on not, the majority of that heart-ache was blamed on Terrelle Pryor.

Since the fallout, Terrelle has done little to endear himself to Buckeye faithful. Comments like this paint the picture of an individual concerned less about those he hurt and more about his own selfish aims; the problem that undoubtedly landed him in this situation in this first place.

Regardless, the athletic department’s five-year banishment of Pryor is set to end in 2016.

The milestone will mark exactly half the time it took Clarett to go from outcast to outstanding citizen in the eyes of Buckeye Nation.

As serious as Clarett’s mistakes were, they ultimately affected him and him alone. Once Maurice righted Maurice it felt right to welcome him back into the fold.

The problem Pryor faces is that he can never fully fix his missteps because their repercussions were felt far outside of himself. As hard as he tries, 2010’s record will forever be erased and 2011’s 6-7 mark will forever stand.

It's hard to say if Pryor will be celebrated in Columbus again. In fairness, he accomplished a number of feats that would render him a Scarlet and Gray hero under normal circumstances.

Three straight B1G championships, the team's first Rose Bowl win since '97, the team's first bowl win against an SEC opponent and three straight wins against TTUN is nothing to scoff at. But, how that legacy will be remembered depends almost entirely on how he conducts himself in the coming years.

For a little perspective, Eleven Warriors went straight to the source, asking Clarett what advice he would give Pryor when it comes to earning his way back into the good graces of Buckeye Nation. Here's what he had to say:

"I'd tell him to make a very deliberate effort. To make learning a life-long process and a priority. I'd tell him to feed his brain."

With so much uncertainty surrounding Pryor's Buckeye future, one thing is crystal clear: No. 2 would do well to take a page out of the redemption story of No. 13. 



Greenbriar's picture

You cannot blame 2011 on Pryor.  He committed an infraction that should have led to a few game suspension.  What Ohio State was punished for was Tressel's cover-up. 
Pryor was a kid who broke some NCAA rules.   The worst case for what he did should have been a partial personal suspension for 2011. 
Tressel was an adult who broke some serious NCAA rules. The worst case for what he did is what happened.  
And why pick on Pryor?  What about Posey or Adams?  If there is blame, they share it.
Pryor got screwed in all of this.  He is certainly not my favorite Buckeye and I think he has handled this pretty poorly, but it is clear that if Tressel had just reported the infractions, then 2011 would have been a lot different.  
All this said, we ended up with Urban and we were undefeated last year.  All's well that ends well.

CC's picture

Great post.  The only thing I would add is that TP can never be the net MC because TP was never as low as MC.  TP made a dumb decision that many 20 year olds would have made.  MC was running around with guns and drugs.  Very different.  I'm glad MC is back in line with the good guys.

Ethos's picture

exactly, TP is rich, MC never got there.  #richpeopleproblems.  I don't think he's worrying about how the Buckeyes perceive him right now.

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

Citrus's picture

Pryor made some mistakes. Those of us that haven't at 19-20 please cast the first stone. Seeing that no one threw a stone, perhaps we should all remember that TP gave us some good memories. I hope he makes a great life for himself.

AndyVance's picture

I fear that the biggest thing Pryor could do to endear himself to the Buckeye faithful is completely out of his hands: become an NFL success and be humble about so doing. People love a reformed sinner, and they especially love the reformed sinner that "pulls himself up by his bootstraps" and becomes a success again.
Alas, Pryor's fortunes in that regard are tied to the fortunes of the Raiders, and he may not have the chance to become the success in the NFL some of us think he could be, given said chance.

bodast67's picture

I refuse to single Pryor out in this situation. There is enough blame to go around with the other players, the lawyer, the tattoo shop owner and the head coach. Pryor is the highest profile person still in the headlines (no offense to Big Mike Addams) so we tend to still be focusing on TP.




     " I hope when I die, I die laughing"...                

Ethos's picture

Although Pryor hasn't done well in how he left, or what he has said to the media, there is no way you can blame all the problems the team had on him at all.  Like others have said, it was Tressel's un-doing, he got greedy (he was seeing NC in 2010).  It's really that simple.  If he'd have just suspended Pryor for the first 2-3 games of the season, this would of all never happened.
However, in my opinion we ended up in the best possible situation with our new coach and staff.  Change is hard, and I think no matter if Tressel had been fired, or retired in a few years, the changing of the guard would of been equally hard, it just happened sooner then expected.

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

BrewstersMillions's picture

But, how that legacy will be remembered depends almost entirely on how he conducts himself in the coming years.

I really liked this read Jeff, I'm not being critical but I do have a question about that line. Whether you are right are wrong-and I do think you are on to something with this idea-I think it's wholly unfair to Pryor that his reputation as a Buckeye depends on his post Buckeye actions. I think some people are incorrectly attributing this with NFL success-I think you think its more than that. He may never be a great NFL player who raises the profile of Ohio State Football further than he did as a collegian, but if he doesn't act like a d-bag, he might be forgiven. I will ask this though-how is this situation different than that of Cris Carter? Both guys left the school under a black cloud, both were in the conversation for greatest Buckeyes ever at their position, one is universally loved despite spending his entire NFL career perfecting the art of Cranial Haberdashery while the other-despite his aforementioned success at OSU is one of the more detested players in school history. Cris Carter was a douche bag's douche bag. He spent his first few years in the NFL rebuilding the career he ruined in Philly and spent nearly every play of his career in Minnesota whining and making a scene any time a ball thrown to him wasn't caught. I do wonder what sets Carter and Pryor apart. I don't disagree with you that Pryor is a disliked person in the annals of OSU lore but I do feel like a lot of the severe criticism lobbed at him is unfair, outdated, and biased.
Just my $.02

Do I come off as arrogant? Shame on me, I was hoping it would be more obvious.

Jeff Beck's picture

Thanks, yup you nailed it. I wasn't talking about his NFL career, but rather his actions as a person. 

Excellent parallel with Carter. I actually don't think the situations are dissimilar at all. As stated in my post, I think time heals a lot of wounds. 

With Carter I think Buckeye Nation grew to love him again, which I suppose is the point of the piece.

Time gives individuals perspective. Over the years, Buckeye fans have been able to appreciate Carter for what he was, an amazing talent that happened to make a number of mistakes.

My hope is that Pryor (helped by amiable actions) will similarly be welcomed back into the fold, but I suppose we'll have to wait and see.

Brutus's picture

The most fascinating part of this article for me is the fact that the Sporting News predicted that the Bucks would stop Miami.  I thought only me, all of you, and Eddie George thought that.
I have no ill will towards Pryor and I actually think the comparison to Clarett is unfair.  When things got bad for Clarett, he tried throwing the entire program under the bus.  Pryor may have bolted to save his own skin, but in the process, he spared the program greatly because he couldn't be compelled to answer more questions from the NCAA. And regarding the comment he made about the suspension screwing him, he did go on to say that his mistakes screwed him as well.  His quote is taken out of context.  We have no idea what the question was.  It sounds to me like he was asked about his progression thus far in the NFL and I think he correctly points out that the suspension hindered his progress.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Enough with all the Terrelle bashing!  The kid gave us some great effort and wins throughout his career.  So f@#$ing what he was cocky.  So f@#$ing what - he sold some gear for cash and served a 5 game suspension for it.  It was Tressel, and Tressel alone who completely f@#$ed OSU and lead to all of the carnage and media coverage in 2011 and forward.  Even remotely insinuating that Clarret's stupidity only impacted him and him alone is ridiculously erroneous.  The embarrassment Machine Gun Mo heaped on OSU was monstrous then and it still has a ripple effect today, albeit a bit softer.  Terrelle Pryor owes no apology to the Buckeye Nation but we certainly owe him one for the way he was completely tossed under the bus by the fans and alumni.  He would have been one of the greatest QBs in OSU history had Tressel not lost his mind and tried to cover all of it up.  Blame Terrelle for not being all warm and fuzzy but to correctly point your angst and butthurt about 2011 - that squarely falls on Jim Tressel. 
I have always been a Terrelle fan and always will.  I'm elated that Mo has turned his life around, and I am thrilled that Jimmy T has a new gig that suits him awesomely.  But enough of the Terrelle hate fest from the OSU supporters... it's just plain f@#$ing embarrassing!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

DaiTheFlu's picture

You speak as though TP were the consummate teammate and leader during his time here, while also implying that the one or two "minor" mistakes he made at the end can simply be chalked up to youthful ignorance. While I do partially agree with you that TP gets more blame than other members of the Tat-5, simply due to his higher-profile stature, I also clearly see the many instances of TP acting like a whiny brat and throwing teammates under the bus during his first two years at Ohio State. Basically, the whole "TP made a mistake that any 19 year old kid would have made" argument is disingenuous, as it clearly ignores the myriad missteps and tantrums he had prior to the memorabilia scandal.

One other thing. While Tressel obviously made the biggest mistakes, which ultimately cost him his job, it seemed to me that TP was coddled and spoiled from day one, which obviously cultivated his poor attitude and worse decision making a few years later. Yes, Tress made mistakes near the end, but the biggest mistake was to never hold Terrelle accountable for his actions. We all saw what a diva he was from day one, but we were also blinded by 10-win seasons, wins over Michigan and that incredible stiff arm. So yes, blame Tressel all you want, and you'll be right to do so. But to do so while giving TP a free pass is disingenuous and dishonest.

We can't stop here; this is bat country...

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

I'm not inferring anything about his interaction with his teammates or his supposed offenses on/off the field so please don't project your thoughts as if they are mine.  I am simply stating that blaming Terrelle Pryor for all the ills of the 2011 seasons is bullshit!  There were a bunch of other people involved but Pryor is the only one associated with it.  Even the 15 year veterans of the NFL throw tantrums ever once in awhile and given the amount of scrutiny Pryor was under, I tend to give him a pass.
I am a huge fan of Jim Tressel but he and he alone made the decision that brought the program and himself to the ultimate low!  He knew what he was doing, he knew the consequences of what he was doing, and he choose to do it anyway!  Without Tressel's massive mistakes, we would have been done with the whole thing a few games into the season - plain and simple!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

DaiTheFlu's picture

What you're saying is that TP made a singular mistake by selling/trading his memorabilia, while also blaming Tressel for the ultimate result from TP's decision. It is pretty obvious to me that TP has, and will always be, about TP, as was clearly demonstrated throughout his Buckeye tenure. To me, this demonstrates a clear and obvious pattern of behavior, the end result of which being his premature and ugly departure from Ohio State.

Basically, to see his involvement in Tat-Gate as some sort of youthful mishap, about which he was immediately remorseful, seems very generous when you consider his established pattern of behavior. You say that TP gets all the blame for what happened, as opposed to Boom Herron or Devier Posey, who are almost relegated to footnote status when discussing the so-called scandal. Personally, I never recall seeing Boom or Devier throwing tantrums, being a poor teammate, etc., so it is easier to give them the benefit of the doubt.

I rooted and cheered Terrelle as hard as I ever have any other Buckeye in my lifetime, but that doesn't cloud my conscience in the matter, either. Terrelle always came across as arrogant and selfish, so I am quite frankly not surprised at the manner in which he left Buckeye Nation. Jim Tressel effectively sold his soul and his career when he went all out and hitched his wagon to Terrelle Pryor. I sensed from day one that TP was given a lot of leniency with his behavior and poor team mindset, which was probably due to his incredible talent and potential. Yes, Jim Tressel bears the ultimate responsibility for what happened here, and made many terrible decisions throughout, but I can also say with 100% certainty, Jim Tressel would still be the head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes if Terrelle Pryor went to Oregon or Penn State.

We can't stop here; this is bat country...

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Dude - you're all over the map with your logic.  First off, again, stop projecting how you feel about Pryor as if I had written it.  Not one time have I said anything about blaming Tressel for a decision Terrelle made.  That is your misguided thought process on the subject, not mine.  Terrelle made a decision to sell his shit for cash and tats.  That decision stopped right there.  Jim Tressel found out about it and instead of doing the right thing and bringing to the NCAA's attention, he chose to conceal it - that was HIS own decision and had nothing to do with Terrelle Pryor's actions.  Not one thing! 
Again with the projection about Pryor feeling remorseful - I could give a flying fucking rats ass if he was or not - doesn't matter and not even remotely germane to this topic - that is your animosity towards Pryor, not mine!
I find it hysterically laughable that you paint Tressel as the martar that took the bullet for Terrelle and it was Pryor that forced him to make that decision.  Last time I checked, Tressel was an experienced older adult in a position of leadership - not one who let other's dictate his decision making process!  No, you are utterly and completely wrong - Jim Tressel made that decision all on his own!
Your quote:  "Tressel effectively sold his soul and his career when he went all out and hitched his wagon to Terrelle Pryor."
That one made me laugh the loudest!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

BuckeyeChief's picture

TP screwed up in a way that hurt the program more; acted brash, cocky, arrogant and lacked perspective. His biggest crime was selling his gear, then he went out and beat an SEC team (and apologized).
MoC led us to a title; along the way he stumbled, and f'ed up tremendously, but didn't have nearly the effect that tat-gate did. He robbed some one, and I am assuming, went out to do them harm. I am glad he has turned it around, really, really happy for him, but his actions were a million times worse then TP's.
I know it sucks the Vest got fired, and I still defend him to this day. I FUCKING HATE the fact the TP is the only one who carries this load on him. It sucks, and it is wrong. I may have said otherwise on this site a few years ago, but my opinion has changed. I hope time leads to forgiveness, but this guy did play 3 years, beat scUM all three years, win a Rose Bowl, beat the SEC in a Bowl on there own turf and laid it out on the field every time.
Ohio 'til I die.

"2014 National with it!!!"

45has2's picture

I don't see any TOSU animosity in that comment. The suspension and the way he came out of school did screw him. How many times did Mo throw JT and TOSU under the bus? Just about every chance he got. In fairness to TP,  If he would have had a QB coach instead of a video coordinator he would probably be worshiped as a Buckeye god. TP also uttered one of my all time favorite quotes by a Buckeye: "How many times did Herbie beat Michigan?"

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

Buckaroo's picture

Those who knew Pryor personally saw him as a selfish, self centered prima Donna. He harmed the program terribly and took team mates and a Great Coach down with him.  He has never been the center of negative attention in the national media with Tressel taking heat that deservedly needed to be placed on Pryor. He simply ran, took the NFL $! and needs to stay gone! 
A breech of trust and integrity like that committed by Pryor is grounds for lifetime banishment from the program.


NorthernOhioBuckeye's picture

I know a couple of different people that knew TP while at tOSU, with one of them being an assistant coach. I can tell you from talking with both of them, they both told me that TP had the intelligence of a JrHi school kid. He was very childish and self centered. I always thought that when watching him on passing plays. He seemed to throw into double coverage a lot. From what I was told, it was because he didn't know the plays well enough to check off to the 2nd or 3rd options in the play. He also did not know how to read the defenses very well, so he would just tuck the ball and run on most pass plays which was fine with the coaches.
I am not saying this to bash the guy as he was a good player, but just to give some perspective on what people are saying about him. He as instrumental in winning a lot of football games during his 3 yrs as a Buckeye. And for that, I am grateful. But from what I have learned, it is due almost exclusively to athletic ability. If he had the intelligence of an average college kid, I don't know that they would have lost a game that he played in, but we will never know.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Terrelle also did a lot of good things for OSU while he was here.  We all loved watching him play.  Yes, he made some mistakes that he should not have.  A lot of kids do at other big schools and no one hears anything about it.  Doesn't make it right.  His punishment would have been a few games suspension for the crimes.  Unfortunately Tressel also made some mistakes in handling the situation that led to more of OSU's issues.  We all know the rest of the story.  Does Pryor deserve all of the blame - no.  He's still a Buckeye.  People may be upset about how things went down, but he does get too much blame.  In time I think he will mend the fences with OSU fans.  I still would like to see him be a successful QB in the NFL.  Regardless I'd like to see him welcomed back at OSU. 

biggy84's picture

No animosity for TP from me. I appreciate the wins and the fact that he embraced being a Buckeye. I will always contend that the national media blew the infractions (NO broken LAWS) waaaaaay out of proportion. Their faux outrage only surfaces when they have an ax to grind. South Carolina, Oregon, and the list goes on, committed far more egregious violations with little to no response from the same tabloid "journalists". 

nickma71's picture

An enemy of Buckeye nation? Since when? Pryor needs to make no turn around.

thatlillefty's picture

I could go back in time (and I had the authority), I would have revoked TP's scholarship the minute he uttered, "...The University of Ohio State".