Even before his team's first preseason practice, Ohio State
senior quarterback Craig Krenzel was ready for questions about
Maurice Clarett. "A bunch of people are going to be asking me
about Maurice," Krenzel said of the Buckeyes' star sophomore
running back, who was under investigation by the university and
the NCAA for violations ranging from improper academic help to
falsely reporting stolen property. "Maurice is a great player,
but we won all the games he missed last year, and we're confident
that we'll do the same thing this year."
That theory will now be tested. Last Friday, Ohio State announced
that Clarett will miss "multiple games," which could be six or
more. Clarett returned to the team on Sunday, but he'll sit out
Saturday's opener against Washington.
Ohio State has 10 offensive starters back (minus Clarett), but in
order for the Buckeyes to repeat as national champs, they'll need
Krenzel and junior running backs Lydell Ross and Maurice Hall,
who combined to rush for 989 yards in 2002, to step up.
COLOR PHOTO: TERRY GILLIAM/AP (CLARETT)