Maurice Clarett, once a troubled teenager who helped lead the Ohio State Buckeyes to the 2002 National Championship, then grew into a national punchline after several off-field incidents, has re-enrolled at OSU after having served more than three years in prison, according to published reports.
Clarett, the first blue-chip signee of the Jim Tressel era, was the starting tailback and scored two touchdowns during Ohio State's undisputed national championship game victory over Miami in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.
Clarett started summer classes Monday, 10tv.com reported . An Ohio State spokesman confirmed Clarett's status as a student in a statement cited by the Columbus television station.
"Maurice Clarett has been granted reentry into The Ohio State University, following a review by the College of Education and Human Ecology," said OSU media relations director Jim Lynch.
Clarett issued a statement of his own on Monday.
"This is a surreal feeling to be back at Ohio State in such a supportive environment," Clarett said. "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 a distraction or nuisance to the football team or to students on campus."
After his splendid freshman season, Clarett challenged the NFL unsuccessfully on its age-minimum rule, and never again suited up for the Buckeyes.
Eventually, he was drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2005, but was cut before he ever played a down in the NFL.
While in Denver's training camp, stories surfaced that the out-of-shape back was drinking Grey Goose on the practice field. "I gotta get my Goose on," Clarett was reported to have said to teammates.
On Jan. 1, 2006, Clarett was arrested after ringing in the new year with that age-old tradition of armed robbery.
Seven months later, he got into more trouble by leading police on a chase after they tried to stop him for a traffic violation.
Clarett ultimately served more than 3.5 years at the Toledo Correctional Institution, but all jokes aside, if he wants to go back to the school that loved him eight years ago before an ugly falling out, completing his degree there without incident would be a huge victory for him and even a small PR win for the school.
Clarett's armed robbery wasn't the first high-profile theft of his life.
In the third quarter of the National Championship game, OSU quarterback Craig Krenzel was intercepted in the end zone, but Clarett chased down Miami's Sean Taylor and stole the ball from him during the return.
The Buckeyes eventually got a field goal on that possession to stretch their lead to 17-7.
Clarett later scored the go-ahead touchdown that proved to provide the winning margin in the second overtime on a five-yard score.