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.