I can guarantee you that’s a headline I never thought I would’ve typed in my lifetime.
But that’s indeed the case as Maurice Clarett has returned to his old stomping grounds, albeit as one of tens of thousands of students that litter the Ohio State campus instead of a revered-turned-reviled football star.
The former Buckeyes running back and hero of the school’s last national championship is enrolled at OSU, taking his first classes of the summer session Monday with a listed major of Consumer and Family Finances.
Clarett released a statement through the university in which he sounded both contrite and just wanting to get on with his life.
“This is a surreal feeling to be back at Ohio State in such a supportive environment. I have looked forward to being back in school and I’m doing my best to fit in with other students. I don’t want to be distraction or nuisance to the football team or to students on campus.”
Monday was likely one of the the first times Clarett has stepped foot back on the Columbus campus since being ruled ineligible in 2003 for receiving illegal benefits. Shortly thereafter, the now-26-year-old Clarett — after a failed 2004 lawsuit that, if successful, would’ve allowed him to circumvent league rules and enter the draft before he’d been out of high school for three years — was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the third round of the 2005 NFL draft. After being cut by the Broncos before ever seeing a preseason or regular-season NFL field, Clarett’s personal life began to unravel and spiral out of control.
On New Year’s Day of 2006, Clarett was being sought by police and ultimately charged with aggravated robbery; eight months later, he was arrested yet again following a police chase and subsequently charged with, among other offenses, carrying a concealed weapon without a permit. Both of those incidents occurred in the city of Columbus.
In September of that year, Clarett was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison, with the possibility of early release halfway through the sentence. In April of this year, Clarett was indeed granted early release, but was ordered to a Columbus halfway house for six months. Again, in Columbus.
So, one of the most self-entitled players in the history of college football has come full circle, attempting to get a mess of a life under control as he exits prison and embarks on the rest of his days on this earth.
In a blog family and friends helped him maintain while in prison as he had no Internet access, Clarett — in the final posting that appeared in August of last year — placed the onus for his troubles squarely where they belong. On himself.
“One thing that really frustrates me is that I have not been relevant to my family for the past four summers. That puts a chip on my shoulder. I have no one to blame but myself. The thoughts just put me in a zone like no other. It puts me in my “One and only” mode. I know that there is no way for me to make up for lost time but hopefully my actions in the future will help them to forget all that’s taken place in the past. I never thought I’d once again be in the position of thinking how am I going to get out of this rut. I think that the longer I wait the more serious I become. I think it’s because I have a good understanding on what it means to be physically free.”
I have no one to blame but myself.
If Clarett can wrap his arms around that ideal and truly live it — as opposed to his pre-prison life, which consisted of various coddlers ranging from hangers-on to family to members of the OSU athletic department and football program enabling at nearly every turn — maybe he can flip the script on this sad tale and become a productive member of society.
Good luck, Maurice. Don’t blow this chance sitting in your lap.