Throwback Player of the Week: Maurice Clarett

Let's talk about the flawed idea of "wasted talent."

Throwback Player of the Week: Maurice Clarett

(I always have to put this at the top: For the best viewing experience, you should click "view online" if you're reading this on email.)

Welcome to "Throwback Player of the Week," where I drop a retrospective (sometimes), and highlights (always) on some of my favorite players in CFB history. This week: Former Ohio State RB Maurice Clarett.

Last TPOW: Texas RB Jamaal Charles

Every now and then I'll get a YouTube notification that someone left a comment on my Maurice Clarett video. Usually, it looks like this:

This isn't unique to him. It's the same for my Justin Blackmon video, and it's usually how the general public talks about any special athlete who's flamed out of their sport.

"What a waste of talent."

"He had so much potential."

"It's a shame he threw it all away."

I'm not going to do that here. What happened to Clarett after Ohio State won the 2002 National Championship is already well documented, and I'm not going to add my spin to another 'what could've been' piece about him. This series is about giving out flowers, and appreciating the journey these players take. Clarett's is one with a lot of twists and turns.

If you follow along with him today, you'll see that he spends a lot of time public speaking, and running The Red Zone, an agency that provides mental health counseling, case management and substance abuse services to people in Youngstown, Ohio. This ESPN article from May 2020 is a good look at where he's at now, and how he's trying to help young athletes –and people in general– avoid the same route that he took. Regardless of what happened to his football career, that doesn't sound like someone who wasted their talent.

And just to avoid the inevitable "Ohio State fan writes puff piece about former Ohio State player who did bad things" charges: I don't know Maurice Clarett. I've never had an interaction with him, and I'm not trying to act like he's a saint now, or that I can vouch for any of the changes he has or hasn't made to his life based off his social media or a single article. There's no incentive for me to big-up him here out of nowhere. I just appreciate seeing the positive shit it looks like he's doing now, and I'm rooting for him to have success in life. Maurice Clarett isn't –and shouldn't be– solely defined by what he was as a football player, and neither should any other athlete. I think it's important for all of us –myself included– to remind ourselves of that sometimes.