Former Ohio State star and NFL bust Maurice Clarett threw away what could have been a promising football career, and more than a decade later, he's trying to make sure other players don't do the same. There might not be a better place to do so than Florida State, where two football players were charged with misdemeanor battery in separate incidents over the summer. The charges compelled the school's president speak to the entire team and implement a series of measures to help Seminoles players increase personal accountability and improve off-field behavior.
"Essentially, I was what y'all was: a national champion," Clarett told the team Wednesday night, per ESPN. "How do you go from being Mr. Everything to Mr. Nothing?"
Clarett rushed for 1,237 yards as a freshman on Ohio State's 2002 national championship team. He never played for the Buckeyes again after being suspended for the 2003 season and later being dismissed from the program. Clarett then unsuccessfully challenged the NFL's draft eligibility rules, and wasn't drafted until the Denver Broncos took him in the third round of the 2005 draft. He was released before the season began, however, and eventually served prison time on aggravated robbery and firearms charges. Clarett has battled alcohol abuse as well.
"A lot of y'all need to grow up. That's the bottom line. What happened to Maurice Clarett in prison was, I needed to grow the (expletive) up," Clarett reportedly told the players. "You had the world in your hands, the NFL in your hands, and you (expletive) it up because you want to be a gangsta."
The Seminoles' offseason was marred by incidents involving quarterback De'Andre Johnson, who has since been dismissed from the program, and star running back Dalvin Cook. Both were accused of punching a woman and charged with misdemeanor battery. Johnson was captured on security video striking his alleged victim in a bar, prompting his dismissal. Cook's case is still pending and his attorney has asserted Cook's innocence.
"That was one of the most bona fide, true, legit talks I've been around in college football in 28 years, trying to reach these young men about making the right choices in life," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "Having it all going to the bottom, that gives him a lot of credibility, unfortunately. But sometimes, these guys have to see that."
FSU hasn't been Clarett's only stop; he spoke to players at Alabama, TCU and Mississippi State last week as well.