Clarett withdraws request

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Former Ohio State football star Maurice Clarett has withdrawn a request for early release from prison that he said would allow him to pursue an NFL career.

Clarett had argued that the sooner he was released, the sooner he could make a comeback, possibly in the NFL.

But he sent a letter Monday to the Ohio Parole Board explaining his decision to withdraw the request, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction spokeswoman JoEllen Culp said Wednesday.

Parole board records are not public. A message left with Clarett's lawyer, Percy Squire, was not immediately returned.

In his Monday blog post from prison, Clarett did not address the parole request, but wrote: "I'm a man and I struggle. I'm not speaking of anything specific. I'm just talking in general. Depression comes and depression goes."

Franklin County prosecutor Ron O'Brien had opposed early parole, saying the former Buckeyes standout hasn't made a strong case to be released yet.

"It probably was a reality check by both Mr. Clarett and his lawyer that they had no chance of obtaining clemency under the circumstances," O'Brien said Wednesday.

Clarett, 25, was sentenced in September 2006 to serve at least 3½ years of a 7½-year sentence for a holdup outside a Columbus bar and a separate highway chase earlier that year that ended with police finding loaded guns in his SUV.

O'Brien's office agreed to the 3½-year minimum term on the grounds Clarett behaved himself in prison.

Clarett could be out in March if a judge releases him early, although he would still have to spend six months in a halfway house.

Squire previously said Clarett had an opportunity to play in the NFL, Arena Football League or Canadian professional football if he were released within the next few months. O'Brien said it appeared Clarett wanted to be released in time to play football in Canada this year in preparation for a possible return to the NFL in 2010.

The former tailback led the Buckeyes to the 2002 national championship.

Clarett stirred controversy in December 2002 by criticizing Ohio State officials for not allowing him to fly home to Youngstown for the funeral of a friend.

But on Jan. 3, 2003, he provided the winning touchdown against Miami, giving Ohio State its first national title in 34 years.

The following September he was suspended by the university for violating NCAA rules. He later unsuccessfully challenged the NFL's eligibility rules.

The Denver Broncos drafted Clarett in the third round in 2005, but he was hurt in training camp and was cut without playing a down.

"Old thoughts often tackle my emotions and leave me paralyzed momentarily. Does anyone know what it feels like to be stuck mentally for days on end? Depressing thoughts are the invisible weight we all hate to carry but at times is inevitable," Clarett wrote on his blog. "I personally believe that I've been aiming too low. A body and mind full of endless possibilities that I cannot and will not waste it back here."

Clarett, housed at a Toledo prison, phones the blog entries to relatives who post them.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.