Ex-OSU tailback sent to smaller facility

A judge on Wednesday cleared the way for ex-Ohio State football
star Maurice Clarett to move to a smaller detention facility in
Columbus, which could lead to his release within a few months.

Asked by Franklin County Common Pleas Judge David Fais if he had
anything to say, Clarett cleared his throat and said, “I’d like to
say I’m humbled.”

Clarett, who led the Buckeyes to the 2002 national championship
in his only college season, served 3 1/2 years in prison for
aggravated robbery and carrying a concealed weapon.

Fais said Clarett, 26, had met terms of his original sentencing
when he pleaded guilty in September 2006 and permitted the move to
Maryhaven, a community-based correction facility.

“He’s very grateful he’s been released,” said his attorney,
Michael Hoague. “Still, he’s incarcerated, so it’s a blend of
emotions.”

Officials at the facility will evaluate Clarett’s employment,
education and family considerations. He will be there at least 4
months but no more than 6 months before being released, pending
good behavior, Fais said.

Clarett said he also had realized that he wants to become a good
father to his daughter, who lives in Youngstown, Ohio, with her
mother.

His mother, Michelle Clarett, sat a few feet away from her son,
along with other family members and friends.

Upon leaving the courtroom she said she was “still digesting”
the decision but added that she was pleased it was another step
toward her son’s release.

Prosecutors did not argue against Clarett’s move to the
facility.

“He did have a good prison record,” Franklin County Prosecutor
Ron O’Brien said Tuesday night.

Hoague said Maryhaven was a step between a county jail and a
prison, with dormitory-style living and numerous programs to
prepare inmates for the outside world. He said during the latter
stages of a person’s confinement, they can be released to go to
work each day.

Hoague said Clarett had taken classes on geriatrics and
gerontology while in prison and hoped to work with older
adults.

Fais asked him what he had learned about himself during his time
behind bars and Clarett said he had discovered that he lacked
character when he was younger.

Clarett pleaded guilty in September 2006 to having a gun hidden
in his SUV and holding up two people outside a Columbus bar in a
separate case. He was sentenced to 7 1/2 years in prison with
possible release in 3 1/2 years.

Clarett was a standout running back from Warren, Ohio, who was
selected as a national player of the year by one publication.

He never played another college game after scoring the winning
touchdown in Ohio State’s 31-24 double-overtime win over Miami in
the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, the Buckeyes’ first national title since
1968.

He was declared ineligible after that season for receiving extra
benefits that were brought to light after he filed a false theft
report about a car break-in.

While he was ineligible, Clarett sued the NFL in September 2003
to be permitted to enter the league’s draft. The NFL requires all
athletes to be out of high school for at least three years before
entering the draft. After an initial court victory, Clarett lost
after the NFL appealed.

When it finally came time for him to be drafted under NFL rules,
the Denver Broncos surprised many by selecting him in the third
round of the 2005 draft. But they cut him before the season even
started.

Clarett was charged with aggravated robbery on Jan. 1, 2006,
after police said he flashed a gun at people outside a bar and
robbed them of a cell phone. Before his trial on those charges,
Clarett was arrested on Aug. 9, 2006, after police chased him when
they said he failed to stop him for a traffic violation.

Clarett has been taking college-credit courses in the Toledo
prison, where he was confined to a single cell but was not isolated
from other inmates. He was able to exercise and eat with other
inmates.