When Buckeyes fans watched freshman phenom Maurice Clarett run through, over and by opposing defenses during Ohio State's national title campaign in 2002, it was easy to imagine the bull-headed running back doing the same thing at the highest level some day.
Clarett's downfall following that magical season was quick and swift, though, and instead of composing the NFL career many envisioned, he traveled a road that landed him behind bars in a federal prison for nearly four years.
On a personal level, Clarret has matured greatly. The now 29-year-old Clarett does frequent work with inner-city kids, teaching them to avoid the same mistakes that knocked him off the bright path he was on.
On a professional level, Clarret is trying to make a similar turn around.
According to RugbyMag.com, Clarett has joined a development rugby team in Columbus, Ohio in the hopes of making the 2016 Olympic team.
Maurice Clarett has joined the Tiger Rugby Olympic Development Program in Columbus, Ohio. “He’s committed to try to make Rio 2016,” said Tiger Rugby director Paul Holmes. “That’s Maurice’s plan.”
Clarett will need some time to adjust to a completely new sport, and his chances of developing into an Olympic-level rugby player in just three years may be slight, but Holmes is very impressed with Clarett's athleticism.
“He’s ridiculous. That’s all I can say. His footwork is phenomenal. He’s nowhere near conditioned for rugby, but that will come," Holmes said. "The stuff he’s doing in the gym right now, he’s just ridiculous.”
USA Today believes that the first qualifying matches will take place in 2014, so Clarett will need to learn his new sport relatively quickly to make the cut.
David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report.
Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.