Players React To Clarett News

It is possible that the seniors on this Ohio State football team have played their final game alongside troubled tailback Maurice Clarett. Here is what the players had to say Tuesday after learning their teammate likely won't be back this year.

Hours after OSU head coach Jim Tressel announced that tailback Maurice Clarett would not practice with the team until his suspension was clarified, Clarett's teammates discussed his changing status.

It seems unlikely, OSU athletic director Andy Geiger said later in the day, that Clarett will be back this season.

Reporters asked several of the players assembled for regular weekly interviews for their take on the ongoing Clarett saga. Apparently, at least a small collection of seniors and upperclassmen were polled for their thoughts on the matter.

"There's a point where being patient with an individual starts to become detrimental to the team," said senior tight end Ben Hartsock. "It's finding that fine line that is the tricky part.

"That's why he's come to us and asked us what our opinions were. He's made a decision on that to have him a little bit apart from us right now."

A week earlier, Clarett had been cleared to join the team for practice. He toiled mostly on the scout team. But, with it clear that Clarett may not be back this year, Tressel made the move Tuesday to remove him from practice.

"To be honest with you, I didn't realize he wasn't here until I came out for interviews," Hartsock said. "We've got a lot of moving on to do right now."

Senior quarterback and captain Craig Krenzel said it is unfortunate that the Clarett case has taken this turn.

"This is unfortunate, but there is nothing we can do about it," Krenzel said. "I think we showed against a pretty good football team last week that we are capable of putting the ball in the end zone with the guys we have.

"With every snap and every carry and every chance they have to pass protect, those guys will get better. There is no doubt that we have two talented backs. It's up to us to go on and get better."

Sophomore safety Nate Salley also discussed Clarett's status.

"I didn't know what was going on," Salley said. "A lot of people were wondering why Reece was out. He had been practicing with us the last few days.

"I wish him the best. That's my boy. I hope everything will be all right with him. Hopefully he can stay focused and he'll be ready when he comes back."

Linebacker A.J. Hawk also shared his thoughts on Clarett's sudden departure.

"He's got his things he's got to get worked out," Hawk said. "We're just excited for him to get back. We have great players like Lydell Ross and Mo Hall who can get the job done.

"When Maurice comes back, we'll welcome him back. But hopefully he can get all of his things worked out."

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