Ohio State’s freshman running back, Maurice Clarett is only four months out of high school but in another four months will make one of the hardest decisions of his life. The 18-year old star is capable of challenging boundaries in both college and professional football.

No true freshman has ever won college football’s most prestigious individual award, the Heisman Trophy, but Clarett is clearly in the running. Clarett will also push the envelope if he decides to try and enter the National Football League next year.

The NFL has a rule that states you must be three years removed from high school before entereing the NFL draft. This rule is designed to keep true freshman, sophomores and juniors from entering into the league prematurely. This rule has never been challenged, but if kids can go from high school to the pro’s in basketball, why can’t they do the same in football.

Clarett is half way through the season, and everyone knows that he is considering challenging the NFL, its just a question of when. I’m not saying Clarett will go this year, but he could. Right now he is as close as any true freshman ever came to getting the Heisman.

His stats are stacked. In eight starts he has racked up 980 rushing yards, 15 touchdowns and a scoring average of 11.3 points per game. He has helped get the Buckeyes off to an undefeated, 8-0 start.

For Clarett to stay he would need a reason to stay. He was recently quoted as saying, “You can always go back to school, but I don’t think there’s a job in the world where you’re gonna make $113 million in 12 years, okay maybe one.” Well the one job for Clarett would be that of a franchise player running back.

He has no real reason to stay. Clarett has to weigh the decision of whether to stay and play football in college, while turning down millions in endorsements on top of a heavy contract, or go pro and make the money. Clarett wears number 13 because the number represents bad luck, which Clarett has had more than his fair share of.

Growing up in the ghetto area of Youngstown, Ohio, Clarett has already attended 10 funerals of his friends and as a youngster did his share of time in juvenile hall.

Of course Clarett is thinking about the NFL, as well he should be. He defied the odds, coming out of a city where you’re lucky if you live to see thirty, to make something of himself. Wouldn’t you do the same thing if you were him, or would you let your family stay in the city where bullets fly more than kites? I see Clarett taking his case to court and running his way into the NFL by the 2004-2005 season, possibly picking up a Heisman on the way.

Fitzsimmons can be reached at afitzsimmons@campustimes.org.

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