With the Denver Broncos final selection of Day One they surprise everyone, selecting one of the most controversial college players in recent memory, running back Maurice Clarett, formerly from Ohio State.
Although Clarett hasn't played since Jan. 3, 2003, when he scored two touchdowns -- including a 7-yard game-winner in Ohio State's 31-24 Fiesta Bowl win over Miami, head coach Mike Shanahan feels the running backs potential far outweighs the risks.
"We really feel like if (Clarett) did play in those two years, he could have easily been a top-10, top-15 pick," Shanahan said. "We think he has that type of running skills. Obviously not playing for a couple of years, it's not going to be automatic for him to come back but I enjoyed my conversation with him tonight and we're going to give him a chance to fight for a position."
The 6-0, 234 lbs. running back made national headlines during last year's pre-draft process because he petitioned through the court system to become eligible after being away from high school for two years. An appeals court overturned the initial ruling in Clarett's favor, and he sat out last year, working out and biding his time.
It was during this idle time that he fell further out of favor with Ohio State, claiming he had received special gifts, including money from several of the college's Booster Club members.
Once word had leaked of Clarett's admission, he became involved in a myriad of controversy, as school officials adamantly denied any wrong doing, claiming that Clarett was simply expressing his bitterness about the court's decision to deny his NFL eligibility.
Finally cleared, Clarett emerged at this year's Combine claiming he was a new man, prepared to show his worth in the National Football League.
While only time will tell whether or not he will find a roster spot among an already crowded Broncos offensive backfield, Mike Shanahan's ability to churn out dynamic running backs throughout the past decade will certainly play out in Clarett's favor.
If only from the sidelines.
Schon can be reached at Schon@prostarmediagroup.net
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