Huskers' Purify says he's grateful for another chance

Updated: August 8, 2007, 3:46 AM ET
Associated Press

LINCOLN, Neb. -- College athletes who mess up are regularly given second chances. Maurice Purify got a third, and he's grateful.

"I don't get another one," the Nebraska wide receiver said.

Purify began practicing with the Cornhuskers this week, but he's suspended for the Sept. 1 opener against Nevada for his role in a bar fight and a separate drunken-driving conviction.

He believes he's earned back the respect of his teammates. Now he's working to earn back his job.

That shouldn't be a problem for the 6-foot-4, 220-pound Purify, who caught 34 passes last season for a team-leading 630 yards and seven touchdowns. He's considered the Huskers' best pro prospect at receiver since Irving Fryar in 1984.

Purify said that if he wants a chance at the NFL, he must stay out of trouble.

That means no more drinking, the 21-year-old senior said.

What if he's at a friend's place and someone breaks out the booze?

"I've got to leave," he said. "Drinking never did anything for anybody. It's not going to be hard for me. I'm not an alcoholic. I don't need to be social at bars."

Callahan said Purify has shown remorse for his transgressions and been diligent meeting community service and academic requirements placed on him.

"He's maturing," Callahan said. "This incident will allow him to grow and hopefully won't occur again in his future, and he can be the type of person that we all want him to be."

Purify's first run-in with the law was May 5, when he was involved in a disturbance at a downtown bar. Witnesses said he threw a man over a table, hitting him several times and striking the man's girlfriend.

Purify was arrested again June 8 on suspicion of drunken driving after he was pulled over for speeding. Purify was suspended by Callahan later the same day.

Both incidents were packaged into one plea deal on July 18. He was found guilty of DUI, assault, disturbing the peace and hindering arrest. He was placed on a year's probation and fined $1,250. He was ordered to not enter a bar or any other business that primarily sells alcohol. Drug and alcohol counseling also was ordered.

Purify was reinstated to the team on July 20, at which time Callahan announced the one-game suspension.

"I thought it was going to be way worse," Purify said. "I thought it was going to be three (games) or so. I'm glad the decision he made was one game. I wanted to play the USC game."

The Huskers play host to Southern California in the third game, Sept. 15.

Purify emerged as one of the Big 12's top receivers last season. He caught a 63-yard touchdown pass and set up a fourth-quarter touchdown in a near-upset of Texas. He caught two more TD passes against Missouri the following week, and his 9-yard touchdown catch with 21 seconds left beat Texas A&M and clinched the Big 12 North championship.

He missed most of the team's formal conditioning work while suspended this summer. But he said he was invited by quarterback Sam Keller to join him and other teammates for informal workouts.

"Our players have embraced Maurice," Callahan said. "They love him to the extent that they want to see him have success and do great things. The unselfishness of the guys to grab him and go throw every other day and keep him going and maintain his motivation was really big for us. I compliment our team, and I compliment Maurice for staying with it and continuing to move on."

Purify said he felt anxious while waiting to hear how many games he would have to sit out. But teammates assured him that he wouldn't miss much time, he said.

"They said there have been worse (cases) where people were on the team," he said.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index

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