When Maurice Clarett told a pre-season radio broadcast that he intended to win prep football's highest honor this year, some might have accused the Warren Harding running back of hubris at worst or even a little arrogance. They would have been wrong. After all, when you've been listed among the nation's top 15 senior recruiting prospects and you've been an athletic star for as long as you can remember, it's hard to put on a display of false modesty.
And that's all the more reason the entire community should celebrate Clarett's being named Ohio's Mr. Football -- the first Valley athlete to win the award since it was established in 1987.
What makes Clarett's achievement particularly noteworthy is that while he was racking up records, sports honors and football scholarship offers, he was a student, too.
Clarett puts the lie to every coach, parent or school board member who believes that athletes shouldn't be held to much of an academic standard. After all, we've been told, athletics is the only reason some kids stay in school. So if they can barely make a D average, at least they're still in the classroom, so this feeble argument goes.
Academic success: But Clarett has better than a B average. Clarett passed all but one of the state's proficiency tests in his freshman year and passed the exam he failed at the very next testing date.
Clarett has been taking extra courses in the summer so that he could fulfill his graduation requirements by the end of this year, enabling him to enroll at Ohio State University in January 2002. He wanted to be sure he had experience managing the demands of college work before spring training began.
Actually, Clarett committed to OSU shortly after Jim Tressel accepted the head coaching position there. As Tressel's first verbal commitment, he said that he would not have selected Ohio State were it not for Tressel's appointment. Now Clarett will be joined on the Buckeye squad by Justin Zwick of Massillon Washington with whom he shared the offensive player of the year award. Harding's all-time leading rusher should have plenty of local fans to cheer him on when he hits the gridiron next fall.
No matter how much a young person is internally motivated to do his best, caring adults can provide needed encouragement and support. Clarett has been able to reach his goals -- and of course, there will be many more to come -- thanks to the efforts of his mother Michelle Clarett, his Harding Coach Thom McDaniels and Bob Delimutti -- a long-time Harding football supporter -- and football official Mike Butch Jr., who each have been mentors for the young man.
Trusting in the faith of others and relying in the faith you have in yourself are important components of attaining success. We congratulate Maurice Clarett on his outstanding high school career and wish him every success in the future.