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