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Ohio State gets started without star

Maurice Clarett set a school freshman record with 1,237 yards during OSU's run to the national title.

By Times Wires
Published August 6, 2003

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Defending national champion Ohio State opened its doors to returning players on Tuesday. The only one missing was the team's biggest star.

Sidelined because of investigations by the NCAA and a university committee, running back Maurice Clarett was nowhere to be found as the Buckeyes reported for preseason workouts.

Most of Ohio State's players said the absence of the sophomore tailback was barely noticed. Others were more perceptive.

"You can't sit here and say that not being here doesn't have an impact," tight end Ben Hartsock said. "Because if he didn't need to be here, none of us would be here."

Quarterback Craig Krenzel said he was staying away from reading or watching much on the saga involving Clarett.

"We pay attention to what we need to do and focus on what we can do," Krenzel said.

Clarett set a record for Ohio State freshmen last year by rushing for 1,237 yards and helped lead the team to its first undisputed national title since 1968.

But the running back became the center of attention after a teaching assistant at Ohio State contended that Clarett walked out of a midterm exam and later passed the course when he was given an oral exam. Ohio State named a committee to investigate.

The tailback acknowledged that he exaggerated the value of items stolen from a car he borrowed from a car dealership in April. The NCAA is investigating Clarett's use of the car.

Ohio State officials announced on July 30 that Clarett would be held out of all preseason workouts "until and unless" he was cleared.

Meanwhile, Clarett's high school coach said the running back didn't show up for an arranged meeting with newly inducted Hall of Famer Marcus Allen.

Coach Thom McDaniels had helped set up the Sunday meeting with Allen, who was enshrined in the Hall earlier that day.

"Maurice just needed to be where he needed to be," McDaniels said. "He didn't even call us."

CENTRAL FLORIDA: Running back P.J. Smith has been barred from the team after his arrest last week on sexual battery charges. Smith, a freshman transfer from Dodge City (Kan.) Community College, was to report today.

CLEMSON: Linebacker Eric Sampson, who was kicked off the team "permanently" by coach Tommy Bowden in December, was reinstated. Bowden, whose statement on Dec. 3 said Sampson was let go for "conduct unbecoming of a Clemson student-athlete," said new information made him reconsider the player's status.

FLORIDA STATE: Twenty players ran timed sprints as the Seminoles reported for summer practice - 25 days before their season opener at North Carolina.

Senior linebacker Michael Boulware was among a handful of veterans who had to run 16 dashes of 110 yards. Players who attended all of the voluntary summer workouts were exempt from the conditioning sprints.

"It's good to get back into the swing of things, but it's never easy to run those 100s though," said Boulware, who missed a couple of workouts for publicity commitments.

MIAMI: Coach Larry Coker is using a rotation of players to figure out who can fill the two open starting spots at defensive end. The three players getting repetitions on Tuesday - freshman Baraka Atkins, sophomore Thomas Carroll and junior Alton Wright - received a vote of confidence from Coker. "They're doing what we've asked them to do," Coker said. "I think we are going to be fine there."

SOUTH FLORIDA: All 102 players reported, and the Bulls will work out on campus at 8:30 a.m. today.

WASHINGTON: Defensive linemen Josh Miller and Junior Coffin will miss the season because of injuries. Miller, a junior who started 13 games last season, is sidelined with a back injury. Coffin, a junior, has a chronic pinched nerve in his neck and shoulder.


JACKSONVILLE: Coach Hugh Durham signed a one-year contract extension. Durham, who is also the athletic director, is signed through 2007. Last season, Durham, who has a 604-401 record in 35 seasons, became the 32nd Division I coach to reach 600 victories.

CINCINNATI: The school will wait until domestic violence and assault charges against Armein Kirkland are resolved before deciding whether to suspend him.

[Last modified August 6, 2003, 01:33:00]


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