Former Buckeyes share title game memories, post football lives

By RYAN SMITH The Press-News Published:

ALLIANCE-- College football in 2002 featured a team for the ages playing in a game for the record books.

Until the season was over, that was what many thought would be the way to describe the University of Miami Hurricanes. However, it ended up being the story of the Ohio State Buckeyes, who as the underdogs, snatched a National Championship away from the aforementioned Hurricanes after a 31-24 win in double-overtime on Jan. 3, 2003.

More than a decade after the game that many feel has been the pinnacle of football in Ohio in recent decades, former safety Mike Doss and running back Maurice Clarett reflected on that game while meeting up with fans at the Sports Archives Card Show on Feb. 1 at Carnation Mall.

Although Doss was an upperclassman and Clarett a true freshman, their mentalities going into the game were incredibly similar.

"Coming into my senior season, I was just excited to get out there and go win any award as a team," said Doss. "To go out there on a national stage and beat a team of their caliber was something I will never forget."

"The amount of extra time with media timeouts and warm-ups was a little nerve-wracking," said Clarett. "But our main goal was to just go out and get the win however we could."

Although the team and the fans were on a shared high of victory following the game, the careers of Doss and Clarett went in surprisingly different directions.

Doss, the defensive MVP of the 2003 National Championship Game, was drafted in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts in the same year. He went on to play four seasons with the Colts and won Super Bowl XLI as a safety for the team.

However with all of his success, Doss said what helped prepare him most was playing for Canton McKinley in high school with such pressure to succeed at such a young age.

"I can remember one of the craziest environments I've played in was my senior year when we [McKinley] played our rivalry game against Massillon and how excited everyone was," Doss said.

"That led me into college where the fans were a little more crazy before games and then that made the NFL transition easier because when you go in and play Kansas City and hear their version of the National Anthem, 'Land of the free and the home of the Chiefs', it helps a lot to be ready for that."

While Doss was lacing up his cleats in the NFL, Clarett was feuding with Ohio State's athletic department and the NFL over his eligibility to enter the NFL draft after he and the university had a major falling out.

While all of this was happening, Clarett turned to a life of partying and budding alcoholism on the west coast, which inherently effected his chances to make his NFL dreams come true.

Much of Maurice Clarett's story of struggle after his short time at Ohio State can be viewed in the recently released ESPN 30 for 30 documentary "Youngstown Boys" from Jeff and Michael Zimbalist.

"It was very refreshing to have the facts of what took place in my life out there for everybody to see," said Clarett.

"I often felt like I was living in a vacuum at that time and not many people had the chance to hear my opinion. I feel like now the film has given me the opportunity to speak to a different forum of people."

Clarett tweeted, "Drinking was a problem that got out of hand for me... Didn't know I created the problem when I left OSU. -@ReeseClarett13" on Dec. 14, the night of the film's release as he was live-tweeting the documentary with the viewing audience.

Clarett does not disregard his past because he feels that is has helped shape him to become a better man. Although many may have garnered negative opinions of Clarett after his questionable actions, he wants to do as much as he can to change those views and control his own message now.

Clarett has been using social media quite effectively in the past year, as he has amassed nearly 60 thousand followers on Twitter and frequently relays his message using #DDSD, which is one thing he wants the public to know about his current vision.

"I hang my hat on my daily discipline which is why I use #DDSD, which stands for 'Different Day, Same Discipline,' said Clarett. "I get up every morning around 4 a.m., I'm in the gym around 5 a.m. and that keeps me focused and productive every day."

Both men have large goals in 2014 involving both outreach to the community and their personal lives as well.

"My main goal first and foremost is to be the best father I can be," said Doss. "My daughter just turned one and I've been raising my younger brother since our mother tragically passed away from breast cancer so I want to be the best father figure I can be for him."

"My second goal is that I would also like to write a book in 2014 because I want to help the youths out there who don't feel they can make it or those who just need some guidance and I feel that through my experiences I can help that along. I also want to continue work in my foundation 'The Michael A. Doss Foundation' in order to promote inner city education throughout Columbus."

Clarett, who has already authored the book, "My Life, My Story, My Redemption" is continuing to stay focused in 2014.

"I have about three weekends per month until September booked across the country to travel and do speaking engagements in order to reach out to young athletes," Clarett said. "I'm also looking to get married to my wonderful fiancé and be the best father I can be for my family."

Both men have emerged as equals in the game of life after diverting two different ways after college. Both are family men working for the betterment of their own lives as well as the lives of others.

For more information about the Michael Doss Foundation, call 614-944-5704. For more information on the life of Maurice Clarett, follow him on Twitter @ReeseClarett13 or find read his book, available on Amazon.

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