Clarett looks to rejuvenate his football career in the United Football League (Photo by AP).
Former Ohio State Standout Reaches Deal with UFL Club
Omaha, Neb. (Monday, August 30, 2010) – The last time that former Ohio State tailback Maurice Clarett participated in a meaningful football play, he scored the game-winning touchdown in double overtime of the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, providing the Buckeyes with a thrilling 31-24 victory over the Miami Hurricanes to win the NCAA National Championship. After overcoming more than seven years of legal and personal issues, Clarett has begun taking the steps to get his life together, and part of that transition involves getting himself back into competitive football.
"I am humbled by the opportunity the Omaha Nighthawks have given me and will dedicate myself on and off the field to prove that I can be a valuable member of the team and the Omaha community," Clarett said today after signing a professional deal to play in the United Football League (UFL). "I am committed to working hard to earn the right for a second chance in football and more importantly in life."
Clarett guided Ohio State to a perfect 14-0 record back in 2002, running for a school freshman record of 1,237 yards while finding the end zone on 18 occasions. With the stellar year, the Ohio native became the first freshman to lead a national championship team in rushing since former Green Bay Packer Ahman Green did it for the University of Nebraska in 1995. Ironically, Clarett will join Green this season in the backfield for the Omaha Nighthawks.
"The team and I are excited to have Maurice Clarett join the Nighthawks family,” Omaha head coach Jeff Jagodzinski stated. “He will be treated just like every other player on the roster and will be expected to perform to the best of his abilities both on and off the field.”
Following a 2003 academic scandal at Ohio State that cited he received preferential treatment from a school faculty member, Clarett was charged with filing a false police report when he claimed $10,000 in personal belongings were stolen out of a car that he was driving. He was then dismissed from Ohio State and chose to battle a rule of the National Football League (NFL) that stated a player must be three years removed from high school before he could enroll in the NFL Draft. After losing that fight, Clarett was out of football until 2005 when he was finally able to enter the draft. Despite some less than stellar numbers at the NFL Combine, the Denver Broncos made Clarett the final player taken in the third round, but he would be released from their roster before ever playing a down in the NFL.
After the release in Denver, Clarett was reported to be taking a crack at a couple of indoor football leagues, but those situations never came to fruition. Unfortunately for the former college star, a series of legal troubles followed, and he eventually served three and a half years in federal prison. At the conclusion of his sentence in April, a seemingly reformed Clarett re-enrolled at Ohio State to work on getting his college degree. He then made the news again earlier this month when he requested permission from the state (under his ruling, he must ask permission to leave the State of Ohio) to try out for the UFL’s Omaha franchise. He was granted that authority and inked a deal today after running a successful audition for the Nighthawks this past weekend.
Without question, Clarett has made major strides to put his past behind him and is determined to get his life headed back into a positive direction. That newfound attitude is something that impressed UFL Commissioner Michael Huyghue.
"I met with Maurice Clarett today and additionally reviewed all of the reports surrounding his circumstances,” Huyghue remarked. “I support allowing his return to football and believe he will make the most of this opportunity with the Omaha Nighthawks."
Clarett and the Omaha Nighthawks will kick off the 2010 season when the team hosts the Hartford Colonials on Friday, September 24th, at 8:00 p.m. For more information on the Nighthawks, visit www.OmahaNighthawks.com or follow the team on Twitter @OmahaNighthawks.