July 1, 2016

Partly sunny

Clarett will be in Wadsworth for a benefit and camp


Brad Bournival

The Gazette

WADSWORTH — “BigMo” is coming to Wadsworth and he’s staying for two days.

One of the most polarizing sports figures to step foot on Ohio State’s campus over the last two decades, gridiron great Maurice Clarett has been in the news for a variety of reasons.

The former running back was a major player in OhioState’s national championship victory over Miami in 2002, when he rushed for the winning touchdown and made a game-saving play that still makes the highlight reels. As a freshman with the Buckeyes, he ran for 1,237 yards and scored 18 touchdowns.

But that was his only season playing for OhioState. He was dismissed from the team after several troubling incidents and later served a 3½-year prison term for robbery and concealed weapons charges.

This isn’t a story about the bad. It’s a story about what the former college standout is doing now. That includes being the guest speaker at the scholarship dinner at The Galaxy Restaurant to benefit Wadsworth Youth Football on Aug. 1.

The next day Clarett will instruct a football camp from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Wadsworth Youth Field on Bird Street.

“He’s been great,” WYF co-director Brian Hall said. “He really has turned his life around and has a great story to tell our kids. I can’t wait, not just for the kids, but for the adults as well, to hear his story.

“How fame can get the best of you and no matter how low you are, you can turn your life around. It’s an amazing story. We just can’t wait.”

Doors open for the dinner at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $35 per person — $15 for students 13 and under — and there will be a benefit auction of sports memorabilia that includes signed items from Jim Brown and Clarett, with proceeds going to benefit WYF.

Scholarships will be handed out to graduating seniors who played or cheered for Wadsworth Youth Football. Ralph Kinnard, 91, who founded Wadsworth Youth Football in 1962, also will be honored.

Tickets can also be purchased at the door.

“What better night than to give away scholarships, hear Maurice Clarett’s story, and possibly buy things he’s signed and then to honor the man who started youth football in 1962 in Wadsworth?” Hall said. “That’s all in one night. It’s not just for the kids, it’s for the adults, too.”

The following day, Clarett will instruct boys and girls from kindergarten through seniors in high school. Cost of the camp is $25 and all registered athletes will walk away with an autographed picture of him as well.

“There are a lot of people excited about it,” Hall said. “There’s a buzz around town. People can’t wait. We expect a lot of people there. We’re encouraging people to buy now because we’re hoping to have a full house.

“We started this last year and had about 150 people at the first dinner, which was pretty good. The Galaxy can hold up to 500 people, so filling it up shouldn’t be a problem. It’s going to be big.”

For more information on either event, visit wadsworthyouthfootball.com or call Hall at (330) 328-6757, Rick Mooney at (234) 248-9060, Ty Houchin at (330) 464-2052 or Robert Rickenbacker at (330) 618-1470.

Contact Brad Bournival at sports@medina-gazette.com.