Clarett is key to Ohio State's hopes

Updated: August 29, 2003, 9:55 AM ET
By Mel Kiper Jr. |
Q: What do you make of Maurice Clarett's situation at Ohio State, with the academic and financial investiagations focused on him? -- Greg, Sunbury, Ohio
Maurice Clarett
Maurice Clarett set Ohio State freshman records with 1,237 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns last season.
KIPER: Ohio State is fortified with four running backs, but Maurice Clarett is obviously their top guy. They have good depth behind him, but none of his caliber. He's a phenomenal player. But right now, investigations are still taking place and we don't know all of the facts. We're going to have to wait and see how this all plays out.

What I can tell you is that Clarett is special, and without him the Buckeyes don't win a National Championship. The Buckeyes have a difficult schedule again this year. Everyone will be gunning for the defending national champs. Even last season, they had some games they were fortunate to win. This season, they'll play Washington and N.C. State at home, and they've got to go to Penn State, Wisconsin and Michigan. So, they need to have Clarett as part of the equation the entire year.

Mel Kiper Jr.

Football analyst
Mel Kiper has served as an NFL draft analyst for ESPN since 1984. He is a regular contributor on SportsCenter and ESPN Radio and writes weekly for ESPN Insider.