BOARDMAN Tressel: Harding's Clarett will 'have to pay his dues'
Jim Tressel said Ohio State landed most of the recruits it went after.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
BOARDMAN -- Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel isn't ready to hand freshman running back Maurice Clarett a starting job, but he likes what he sees of the Warren Harding graduate so far.
"He's a great football player and he works tremendously hard in the weight room," Tressel said. "But we've got some guys like Lydell Ross and Maurice Hall in front of him. He'll have to pay his dues."
Ohio State's recruiting class this season is ranked second nationally by most publications. Tressel landed nine of Ohio's top 10 recruits, including Clarett and Massillon Washington quarterback Justin Zwick.
"We were very fortunate that Ohio was so strong in football this season," said Tressel, who spoke at Wednesday's meeting of the Industrial Information Institute for Education at Mr. Anthony's in Boardman. "There weren't very many guys we recruited that we didn't get."
Dedication: Clarett took summer classes in order to graduate early from Harding. He has brought that dedication to Columbus and has twice been considered for Ohio State's Student Athlete of the Week award.
"He doesn't stay away from the classroom," Tressel said, "and he's around some good people that can help him. He's got a lot of ability. As long as that energy is headed in the right direction, he'll be fine."
Tressel's transition from Youngstown State to Ohio State has been relatively smooth, he said.
"It's about what I thought it would be," he said. "We knew the first 18 months would be crazy. The first thing we did was build relationships and made sure everyone knew what we expected."
No regrets: Tressel benched quarterback Steve Bellisari for this season's game against Michigan after the senior was arrested for drunken driving. Looking back, Tressel has no regrets about how it was handled.
"We thought the punishment had to fit the crime," he said. "We hope people took notice. I always tell them to pay close attention because you don't have time to make all the mistakes yourself."