*COUNTDOWN: 13 DAYS UNTIL BUCKEYE FOOTBALL: MAURICE CLARETT VERSION*

Remy's picture
August 18, 2013 at 1:13a
5 Comments

Maurice Clarett (HB)
2002

"Maurice Clarett is the son of Myke Clarett Sr. and Michelle Renee Clarett (now divorced). His father once worked as a Regional Representative for the Secretary of State in Ohio. His mother worked as a senior administrator for the Youngstown City Clerk of Court. He has an older brother, Marcus, who was a defensive tackle for the University at Buffalo and another older brother, Michael Graham Clarett Jr.

High School
After displaying his abilities as a punishing freshman tailback on the Austintown-Fitch High School varsity team, Clarett transferred to Warren G. Harding High School to continue his scholastic career and garnered national attention.

When he graduated from Harding, many national publications ranked him among the top 100 players nationally. Clarett received an offer from Ohio State University and verbally committed to Ohio State over offers from Notre Dame, Fresno State, and the University of Miami. He formally committed to the Buckeyes in February 2002.

Ohio State's coach, Jim Tressel, had previously been coach of Clarett's hometown Youngstown State Penguins. Later, Clarett received the USA Today Offensive High School Player of the Year and Parade All-American distinctions.

 

Ohio State

Clarett started his career with 175 yards and three touchdowns against Texas Tech.

Clarett starred at Ohio State for one season, rushing for 1,237 yards (a school record for a freshman) and scoring 18 touchdowns, which helped the Buckeyes to a 14-0 record and the 2002 BCS National Championship.

He scored the winning touchdown against the University of Miami with a five-yard run in the second overtime in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl (played January 3, 2003).

He also made a key defensive play in that game, stealing the ball on the Miami 28 from Hurricanes safety Sean Taylor, who was returning an interception from the end zone of a pass thrown by Craig Krenzel. After that play, Ohio State kicked a field goal, giving them a 10-point lead at the time.

 

Clarett was the first freshman to be the leading rusher on a national championship team since Ahman Green of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1995.

Career rushing statistics at Ohio State
Year Games Rushes Yards Average TD
2002 11       222     1,237  5.6       18
Total 11       222     1,237  5.6       18
 

Buckeye Career Comes to a Troubling End
Clarett's time at Ohio State University was marked by several troubling incidents. He was seen yelling at his position coach during the Northwestern - Ohio State game in the 2002 season.

In December 2002, he publicly maligned OSU officials for not paying for him to fly home for the funeral of a friend and accused administrators of lying when they said he had not filed the necessary paperwork.

In July 2003, Clarett became the center of an academic scandal when a teaching assistant told the New York Times that Clarett had received preferential treatment from a professor; the investigation did not find sufficient evidence of academic misconduct.

Ohio State later suspended Clarett for the 2003 athletic year after he was charged with filing a false police report. Clarett had filed a false claim that more than $10,000 in clothing, CDs, cash and stereo equipment were stolen from a car he borrowed from a local dealership in September 2003.

Athletic Director Andy Geiger stated that Clarett also took in special benefits totaling approximately $20,000, and repeatedly misled investigators. Clarett later pleaded guilty to a lesser criminal charge (failure to aid a law enforcement official) in that incident.

Clarett moved to Los Angeles after his dismissal from Ohio State, and, while living there, sued to be included in the 2004 NFL Draft. He won his case at trial. However, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision. Subsequently, Clarett worked with trainers in preparation for the 2005 NFL Combine, hoping to impress for the upcoming draft.

NFL
In his attempt to enter the 2004 NFL Draft, Clarett challenged the NFL's rule that a player must wait three years after graduating from High School to declare for the draft.

Federal Judge Shira Scheindlin initially ruled based on anti-trust grounds that the NFL could not bar Clarett from participating in the 2004 NFL Draft.

This decision was later overturned by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in an opinion by Judge Sonia Sotomayor, and Clarett's petition for certiorari was refused by the Supreme Court.

Clarett and USC wide receiver Mike Williams, who were both hoping to enter the draft early, were then barred from the draft by the NFL. Later, because they both signed agents before being denied the opportunity to join the NFL Draft, the NCAA refused to reinstate the college eligibility of Clarett or Williams.

Clarett has been represented by California attorney David Kenner. Clarett also lived with Kenner and claims that Kenner helped him straighten out his life. Kenner is also the longtime attorney of Death Row Records CEO and hip-hop kingpin Marion "Suge" Knight.

In February 2005, he participated in the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. During a press conference, he uttered the phrase: "It's a humbling thing being humble." After running a disappointing 4.72 and 4.82 seconds in the 40-yard dash, he refused to participate further, and was referred to as "Slow-Mo" by the sports media, who were largely critical of his obvious lack of preparation.

Ohio State declined to allow him to take part in a private workout for pro scouts in Columbus because it wanted to avoid a "circus" situation.

In a widely unexpected move, Clarett was drafted on the first day of the 2005 NFL Draft with the final pick of the 3rd round (#101 overall) by the Denver Broncos.

Many experts felt that he would fall to the 6th or 7th round, if he was drafted at all. However, Clarett turned out to be unimpressive in the Denver Broncos' preseason training camp. In part due to having not played a game in two years or practiced in over a year, he entered training camp weighing 248 pounds, more than 20 pounds overweight. He was also slow to recover from an injury.

Despite his unimpressive training camp, Clarett signed a four-year contract on July 28, 2005 with the Broncos in which he gave up $413,000 of guaranteed money in order to secure an incentive-laden deal. Clarett signed this deal against the advice of his former agents, Steve Feldman and Josh Luchs.

Clarett's motivation was to replace the proposed deal with a package that would pay him first-round money if he rushed for 1,000 yards in multiple seasons.

However, after further disappointments and incidents with his coaches and never playing a preseason game, Clarett was released on waivers on August 28, 2005, only a month after signing his contract and before playing even a single down in the NFL.

As is standard procedure in the NFL, for a 24-hour period after his release, other teams could have claimed him and taken on his contract. After that 24-hour period, he was freed from his contract and able to negotiate with any team, but no team expressed interest.

 

Robbery Conviction

On January 1, 2006, police announced that they were searching for Clarett in relation to two incidents of armed robbery that took place at 1:46am outside the Opium Lounge danceclub in Columbus. Allegedly, with a .45 caliber handgun, Clarett robbed two people and then escaped in a white SUV with two unidentified persons. Clarett reportedly made off with only a cell phone valued at $150 belonging to one of the victims.

Said Jim Tressel, his former coach at Ohio State, "I hope it's not true, but beyond that, I don't know much, but my reaction is, I was sad."

Clarett turned himself in to police shortly after 9 p.m., EST, on January 2, just as the Buckeyes were defeating Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Arizona, the very bowl game in which Clarett last played college football. He faced two counts of aggravated robbery. He was later released on $50,000 bond.

On February 10, 2006, Clarett was indicted by a Franklin County grand jury on two counts of aggravated robbery with gun specifications and five other counts. If convicted, he would be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison. His attorneys said that he denied every allegation, saying Clarett "intends to fight this indictment with the same vigor and resolve he displayed in taking OSU to a national championship."

On February 22, 2006, Maurice Clarett pleaded not guilty to aggravated-robbery charges. He was released on $20,000 bail until his trial began.

On July 26, 2006, Clarett fired his lawyers, William Settina and Robert Krapenc, two weeks before his trial date. The privately retained attorneys had filed a motion two days earlier saying they wanted to withdraw their counsel, claiming that Clarett was not paying their fees or cooperating in his defense.

At a status hearing held on August 9, 2006 pertaining to the January charges, Franklin County Common Pleas Judge David Fais increased Clarett's bond to $1.1 million. This was due to Clarett's arrest earlier that morning (see below). On August 10, 2006, Fais ordered an additional status hearing which was held on August 11, 2006.

This hearing had not been requested by either the prosecution or Clarett's defense team but was requested by Fais himself. At the hearing, Fais delayed the trial until September 18, 2006, revoked the $1.1 million bond in the case and ordered Clarett to undergo a mental health evaluation.

August 2006 Arrest

In the early morning hours of August 9, 2006, Clarett was arrested in Columbus after he made an illegal U-turn and led the police on a chase in a sports utility vehicle reportedly belonging to his uncle. After Clarett drove over a police spike strip, the chase ended in a nearby restaurant parking lot.

Police said they were forced to secure a cloth around Clarett's mouth after he allegedly spit at the officers and called them "niggers" during the arrest.

According to Columbus Police Sgt. Mike Woods, the officers discovered a katana, a zanbatō, a loaded AK-47 variant and two other loaded handguns in his vehicle along with an open bottle of Grey Goose vodka. The police requested that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives perform a trace on the firearms to determine if Clarett violated Federal gun laws.

The officers used mace to subdue Clarett after attempts to subdue him with a Taser proved ineffective because he was wearing Kevlar body armor.

Clarett was arraigned on the latest charges on August 10, 2006 in Franklin County Municipal Court in Columbus. During the arraignment, Judge Andrea C. Peeples set his bond on the charges of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit and failure to maintain current lane at $5 million.

In setting the bond, Peeples agreed with prosecutors that Clarett is now a flight risk or could attempt to intimidate witnesses in his upcoming robbery trial. Clarett remained lodged in the Franklin County Corrections Center, however, as the $1.1 million bond for the robbery charge was revoked by trial judge David Fais.

According to a Columbus Dispatch report, Clarett, who was due to be tried for his January arrest, was in the neighborhood of one of the principal witnesses against him at the time the events of August 9 occurred.

On September 18, Clarett filed a guilty plea to the charges in a plea bargain that involved these events as well as the earlier robbery charges. He was sentenced by Judge David Fais to seven and a half years in prison, but may apply for early release after three and a half years. As part of the plea agreement, the prosecution agreed not to object to early release if and when Clarett applies for it.

On December 14, it was announced that Clarett will be changing prisons to a close-security prison in a single person cell at Toledo Correctional Institution. He will be able to eat with and exercise with other inmates.

Clarett enrolled in a distance-learning program at Ohio University while serving his sentence at the Toledo Correctional Institution. Clarett would work towards earning a bachelor's degree in Geriatrics and Gerontology.

On April 7, 2010, Judge Fais granted early release to Clarett. Clarett was ordered to enter Maryhaven, a halfway house in Columbus, for up to 6 months.

Omaha Nighthawks

On August 30, 2010, the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League signed Clarett.

On October 1, 2010 he played his first meaningful game of any sort in eight years, rushing for 12 yards on 5 attempts against the Sacramento Mountain Lions.

As the Nighthawks' #2 running back, Clarett finished the season with 154 yards on the ground on 37 attempts and a touchdown. He also caught 12 passes for 98 yards, and returned one kickoff for 13 yards.

Tiger Rugby

On May 17, 2013, it was announced that Clarett will make his rugby debut for the Columbus affiliate of Tiger Rugby at the The Ohio Rugby Sevens Invitational on May 25, 2013 in Mechanicsburg, Ohio.

Family

Maurice has a daughter, born July 16, 2006, with girlfriend Ashley Evans." source

 

Ohio State Career Pictorial:

Texas Tech 45-21: 175 yards and three touchdowns.

Kent State 51-17: 2 touchdowns

Washington State 25-7: 230 yards 2 touchdowns

Cincinnati 23-19: DNP Injured

Indiana 45-17: 104 yards 3 TDs...at halftime

San Jose State 50-7: 132 yards 3 touchdowns

Wisconsin 19-14: 133 yards and a shoulder stinger

Penn State 13-7: DNP Injured

Minnesota 34-3: DNP Injured

Purdue 10-6: 52 yards

Illinois 23-16 OT: DNP Injured

That Team 14-9: Touchdown

Miami 31-24: 2002 National Champions

 

Good luck in the next chapter of your life Mr. Clarett:

Maurice speaks at a church in Marion.

Perhaps you can get him to speak at your church (link to his twitter and contact information).

 

Comments

buckskin's picture

It seems like we've all been through the ups and downs of Maurice Clarrett's life, as it is with all former Buckeye greats.  I'm really glad to see that through all the trouble and immaturity, he has finally found the right path to follow.  Keep doing Buckeye nation proud Maurice, we're behind you all the way.

buckguyfan1's picture

Good, bad, or indifferent... Always part of the Buckeye Family.  Wish him well.

Hovenaut's picture

It's hard to believe that ten years ago I watched in complete disgust as Maurice Clarett, indefinitely suspended Maurice Clarett, was welcomed onto the GameDay set, in town for the Washington game.

Can't remember the game, but it was nauseating to watch Fowler, Corso and Herbstriet dance around his drama, almost dismissive of the fact he wasn't going to play.

Never would have thought then I'd be sitting here now impressed with how he has strived to turn his life around, not only to help himself or his family, but to benefit others as well.

He may have not had the journey he, or any of us, would have thought he would have. But I think I'm no less impressed as I would be even if he had found fame and fortune in football, if not more.

"Success - it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

BuckeyePoetLaureate's picture

Great recap of a crazy and fascinating Ohio State story.  It does seem, at this moment, that he's changed his life for the better after a few insane years.  
I hadn't heard about him playing rugby.  It makes me sad to think about what might have been had he decided to take advantage of his significant gifts.

Proud alumnus of the Ohio State Creative Writing MFA Program.  Creator of the writing craft site Great Writers Steal.

Larryp713's picture

I am proud of Mo... he seems to be really trying to turn it around. If you can't get behind the kind of effort he has put forth, I feel sorry for you.

Respectfully,

Larryp713