By: Ben Alexander Leave it to Ohio State, the school that has produced five Heisman Trophy-winning running backs, to find a freshman that has rushed the fifth-ranked Buckeyes into hopes for a national championship. Maurice Clarett is third in the country for rushing yards and he's only a freshman! The Youngstown, Ohio native has the spotlight on him. The question is-"Can a freshman win the Heisman?" Clarett is still not perfect. He had three fumbles against Northwestern and missed a game against Cincinnati for arthroscopic knee surgery.
It seems as if the Coach of the "Scarlet and Grey" is not worrying about Heisman this year. Coach Jim Trussel told Columbus' eager fans, "If Maurice continues to improve our team and helps us to be successful, then he will play. He earns his snaps. If we were pushing for Heisman, he could have had double the yards he has now and played more in each game."
Of course this doesn't mean Clarett, a lifetime addict to the game, doesn't want to play. During the game against Cincinnati, he asked for scissors to cut off the stitches in his knee so he could play. Trussel told him that if he cut his stitches he wouldn't play the next three games.
This shows the immaturity of the stunning freshman. Once, he threw his helmet up in the air after a 27 yard touchdown was called back because a holding call. He also had disputes on the sidelines through frustration of his three fumbles against Northwestern. Without that spark on the field, it seems as if Clarett can create sparks with his anger.
Clarett averages 2.3 touchdowns a game and 157 rushing yards. He has done this with 40 less carries than the leading rusher nationally- North Carolina State's T. A. McClendon. With his toughness, power, and agility who can stop him? Chris Gamble, a teammate, said, "Standing on the sideline or on the field, I have seen him (Maurice Clarett) run into a pile, push through, pop up on the other side, and then run for eight more yards. He just won't stop! He'd give up a finger for ten more yards." Clarett doesn't deserve all of the credit.
Ohio State's offensive line is one of the best in the country. They create those holes that a car could drive through with their amazing blocking. Clarett even said "They come pat me on the back after a good run, so I make sure I hug them." Number 13 didn't just pop out of no where; he led his mediocre high school team to the regionals for the first 1986. In that game he ran for 401 yards and five touchdowns in one game, an Ohio high school football state record. His great high school career was topped off with winning the prestigious "Mr. Football" award of Ohio and named the AP co-offensive player of the year in the nation. Because his old hometown-college coach, Jim Trussel, was hired at Ohio State, it was a definite that Maurice was going to play for the Buckeyes. He even finished his classes early to start working out and practicing with the team in the winter.
With his ability, determination, and good work ethics how could Maurice Clarett not have great future in football? If only Ohio State University is able to hold on to this great ability for a couple more years. Paul Keels, the long time announcer for OSU football predicts, "Heisman is within his freshman reach and the whole world is reachable not long after."