Clarett wanted on two counts of aggravated robbery

Updated: January 2, 2006, 1:37 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

 Maurice Clarett
Clarett
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett was accused of displaying a gun and robbing two people in an alley behind a bar early Sunday, the latest trouble for the Buckeyes star who left the school in disgrace and failed to gain early entry into the NFL.

Clarett allegedly fled the scene and was wanted on two counts of aggravated robbery. According to police, he left in a white sport utility vehicle with two other men and took only a cell phone from his alleged victims, who weren't injured.

The 22-year-old Clarett fled when the bar owner or manager, who knew both Clarett and the victims, came into the alley and identified him shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday, detectives said.

One alleged victim, Lucas Nyarko, 28, told The Columbus Dispatch that he could not identify Clarett as the man who robbed him. He said his friend identified Clarett after police showed her photographs.

Nyarko said they were approached by a man dressed in black, who told them he needed something. Nyarko said the man pulled up his shirt and showed them a gun tucked in his pants. The man moved the gun to the front of his waistband and told them to empty their pockets.

Nyarko said after he handed the man his cell phone, a woman came out of the nightclub and yelled, ``Maurice!'' in greeting to the man, who hugged her. He then carried the woman, who police said was bar owner Tashona Corvi, toward the SUV, put her down and got in the vehicle.

Before Sunday's incident, Clarett was negotiating a deal and was likely going to sign with an NFL team on Monday, Josh Luchs, one of Clarett's agents, told ESPN The Magazine's Tom Friend.

Clarett was expected to be allocated to NFL Europe if he signed, Friend reported.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said he was informed of the incident on his way to the Fiesta Bowl news conference in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"Obviously, my reaction to that is it's sad," Tressel said, "because, as I said the last few times people have brought up the subject, my hope would be that he would have an opportunity to go over to NFL Europe and make a comeback.

"I hope it's not true, but beyond that, I don't know much, but my reaction is, I was sad."

Clarett's cousin, Vince Marrow, told the Dispatch he spoke to Clarett's mother on Sunday.

"She is shocked. She was getting ready to go to church and I told her there was an arrest warrant for Maurice. She was like, 'What?'" he said.

A message was left Sunday at Michelle Clarett's home in Youngstown.

Another of Clarett's agents, Steve Feldman, told The Associated Press on Sunday evening he had not yet spoken to his client. "At this point we still don't know what's fact and what's fiction," he said.

Clarett rushed for 1,237 yards and scored 16 touchdowns as a freshman. He helped the Buckeyes win the national championship in 2002, but has found only hard times since.

Clarett sat out the 2003 season after he was charged with misdemeanor falsification for filing a police report claiming that more than $10,000 in clothing, CDs, cash and stereo equipment was stolen from a car he borrowed from a local dealership. He later pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

Ohio State suspended Clarett for misleading investigators, and for receiving special benefits worth thousands of dollars from a family friend.

In an interview with ESPN The Magazine in November 2004, Clarett said coaches and boosters arranged for him to get passing grades, cars and thousands of dollars while at Ohio State. None of the allegations was verified and Clarett never responded to NCAA requests to be interviewed about them as part of its investigation into Ohio State's athletic program.

Clarett also unsuccessfully challenged the NFL's requirement that players wait three years after high school before turning pro in a case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Clarett was chosen by the Denver Broncos in last year's draft, but the team cut him in August.

Tressel said he had spoken with Clarett "three or four times in the last six weeks."

"It's been along the lines of hoping he would have a chance to get things together and make a run at things with NFL Europe," the coach said.

Clarett would have been a senior on this year's Ohio State team, which meets Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl on Monday.

"It's real troubling," Tressel said of Clarett's fall. "Not just with youngsters that it becomes newsworthy, but with any kids who don't go the direction you know they're capable of or hope for them. It's one of the tough things when you compete. Sometimes things work out and you're successful and sometimes it doesn't. That doesn't have you back off from competing and teaching and trying to help people."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.