American football top prospect switching to rugby

Discussion in 'Odds & Ends' started by Brettolius, Apr 6, 2013.

  1. Brettolius

    Brettolius Professional

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    Maurice Clarett, the former Ohio State Buckeyes running back who was drafted by the Denver Broncos before going to jail, then re-emerging in the United Football League with the Omaha Nighthawks, has spoken about his decision to attempt a switch to rugby in time for the Rio Olympics in 2016.

    Speaking on CBS Sports Radio's The Doug Gottlieb Show, Clarett, 29, said: "I've never played rugby, I've always watched it and been intrigued by it, because I thought it resembled football in a lot of ways. I have ventured over to something that is very physical, very fast, very like football."

    Clarett said he had not yet played a game of rugby, but added that it was "very humbling to learn another skill set. It's not about big guys with brutal force, it's about angles and positioning. It's a lot of fun."

    Clarett is training at Tiger Rugby, an academy based in Columbus, Ohio that aims to produce Olympic-standard players. Announcing Clarett's decision last week, Tiger Rugby coach Paul Holmes said: "He's ridiculous. That's all I can say. His footwork is phenomenal. He's nowhere near conditioned for rugby, but that will come … The stuff he's doing in the gym right now, he's just ridiculous."

    On Wednesday, Clarett said: "My ultimate goal is to become an Olympian, absolutely. You take yourself as a student, like you would be in football. I started off at home watching YouTube videos. You watch guys who are in front of you, who are better than you, and you try to mimic them." Asked about his new training regime, he said: "Rugby's been beating me into the ground these last few days – the cardiovascular, the anaerobic system is completely different to football."

    Asked if anyone had switched to rugby to become an Olympian before, Clarett said "I haven't the slightest clue." In fact, the path from American football to rugby sevens – which gained Olympic status in 2009 – is becoming rather well trodden. Carlin Isles, a former Ashland University running back and national top 40 sprinter, has made a considerable splash on the HSBC Sevens World Series circuit this season as "the fastest man in rugby", thanks in part to a YouTube video of his exploits which has attracted close to 3 million views. Miles Craigwell, a former Brown linebacker and Miami Dolphins safety, has also played for the US Eagles sevens team, and the USA Rugby national coaches Mike Tolkin (15-a-side) and Alex Magleby (sevens) and chief executive Nigel Melville have made no secret of their aim to recruit athletes from more established US sports.

    In 2003, Clarett scored the winning touchdown in the 2002 National Championship Game, against Miami. After failing in an attempt to enter the NFL draft early he eventually joined the Broncos, only to be released during preseason. He was jailed in 2006, over aggravated robbery and concealed weapons charges, and released in 2010.

    Rugby sevens, which has been played at the Commonwealth Games since 1998 and has had its own World Cup since 1993, will be played in the Olympic Games for the first time in 2016. A short-handed version of rugby's usual 15-a-side format, it prioritises pace, fitness and spacial awareness. The US Eagles will compete in this weekend's Tokyo Sevens.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2013/mar/27/maurice-clarett-football-rugby-sevens-olympics

    Just for discussions sake, what do you all make of this? I mean, the guy is 29 now, but he was a fantastic back and prospect coming out of college. Great athlete. he had all kinds of problems off the field and went to prison for awhile and lost a step or two. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Do you think he could succeed?
     
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  2. Sumo

    Sumo Semi-Pro

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    I think it's awesome. A high profile name like that getting into the game for the US can only help down the road.

    Will he be good? That's a whole other story.
    He'll still be one of the best athletes on the field, especially for the US, and his running ability will be huge if they can teach him not to fight for the extra one ot two yards. Defensively is where he will struggle and could be a big liability out on the field. Defense in 7's requires a lot of discipline and experience to play well, and the better countries could easily exploit him.

    All in.....this is great for American rugby.
     
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  3. Dags

    Dags Professional

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    Funnily enough, there was an article this week about someone going the other way:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/rugby-union/21920475

    Sevens is a very different game from full 15-a-side. A running back would have a good chance of succeeding, provided he can learn the skills of off-loading and tackling. Whilst it's a different type of fitness, I'm sure a professional athlete could adapt.
     
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  4. tenniscasey

    tenniscasey Semi-Pro

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    I think he lacks the dedication to succeed, especially in something like this considering how long he'd have to keep up the training.

    I hope he gets it together, but I'll be surprised to see him in the Olympics.
     
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  5. Feña14

    Feña14 Legend

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    Maybe in sevens yeah, it will be interesting to see how he copes with the pace and the play being continuous. You don't get to sit on the side lines when it's time to defend, plays coming in wave after wave will certainly be a new experience. I'm sure being ran into by some man mountain from Samoa, without a helmet or padding will be a bit of a shock the first time too :)
     
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  6. Sumo

    Sumo Semi-Pro

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    Contact will never be an issue for him, and he'll most likely be one of the bigger guys on the field.
     
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  7. volleygirl

    volleygirl Semi-Pro

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    How can this be good? A washed up bum out of football for many years? if he steps in and does do anything it will only show just how weak the sport of rugby is. I doubt he lasts more than a month.
     
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  8. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Depends where he is in his life. He obviously trained hard at a high level for years to get that good in college football. He obviously messed it all up by being a worthless bum. No reason he shouldn't be given a chance, he certainly has the genetics for it and maybe he has turned his life around, but I'm always a wait-and-see guy for situations like this.
     
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  9. Feña14

    Feña14 Legend

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    They're all pretty similar size wise, yes. New Zealand have a few flankers who play 15's, who also play sevens, they're quite a bit bigger.

    It will be a shock the first time he gets slammed though. I know there is alot of talk about the rule change regarding head contact in the NFL the last month or so. Getting your head down and trying to make yards is what youngsters get taught from a young age, doing that with no protection has the potential for some interesting tackles :)
     
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  10. NickC

    NickC Professional

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    He was never a "top prospect" past college. He was never good enough for the NFL, and he's been in jail for the past few years.

    This will be interesting to see how it pans out.
     
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  11. Sumo

    Sumo Semi-Pro

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    Having played rugby and football, I think he'll be ok with the level of contact while on offense. Getting hit with no pads definitely takes some getting used to, but that's not what will hold him back.

    I have no doubts he would be trouble for anyone offensively, but 7's is a very difficult game. Half the game is defense (or more than that for the US against the worlds best) and positioning is key to being successful. If I were training him, I would spend 80% of my time on defense.
     
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  12. Sumo

    Sumo Semi-Pro

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    At this point, the US is not a rugby power house, and part of it is because we don't have access to the country's best athletes. If someone like Clarett plays and is even marginally successful it will encourage others to try the sport. The more elite athletes we have trying rugby, the better.

    And.....now that it's an Olympic sport, there is even more motivation to get into the sport.
     
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  13. SempreSami

    SempreSami Hall of Fame

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    Meanwhile, Team GB discus thrower Lawrence Okoye's supposedly ditching track & field for the NFL!
     
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  14. Feña14

    Feña14 Legend

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    Yeah, he's more than used to being tackled and trampled on :) even with pads, running backs can take a hell of a battering. It doesn't matter who you are though, taking a hit with no protection has to take a bit of getting used to, it's human nature I suppose.

    I agree, defense is where he will need the most work. The skills that quicker players use to beat their opponent in rugby are very similar to that of wide receivers and running backs, so he'll be fine there.

    One of the biggest adjustments will probably be that the play is more continous, in American football they call out plays individually, get to set up each time etc.. Having to rely on instinct and keep going will be a huge test for him tactically, maybe even stamina wise.
     
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  15. Brettolius

    Brettolius Professional

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    He was certainly a top prospect for the pro's, it's just that he didn't pan out. Basically he tried to sue so he could enter the NFL draft before he had played his requisite 3 years in college. At first he wins, it gets overturned in the supreme court, but Clarrett had hired an agent and the NCAA wouldn't let him play college ball. So by the time he made it to the NFL combine, he hadn't played a game in 2 years, practiced in 1. 20 lbs. overweight. No denying he flamed out.

    So the guy was a world class athlete not all that long ago. Curious how the level of athleticism compares across sports. I agree with volleygirl. If he does well, Rugby looks bad. Like when Gael Monfils lost early at the old Tennis Channel Open. They had a paddle tennis tourney running on the grounds, and they were trying to hype it up and be real serious about it. After losing his tennis match, Monfils picked it up and beat "the Roger Federer of paddle tennis" like 2 days later. Made it look like a joke.
     
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  16. Brettolius

    Brettolius Professional

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    double post
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2013
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  17. crosscourt

    crosscourt Professional

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    Carlin Isles has made a big impression and the USA 7s team is much more competitive than a year or so ago. 7s is a great game, the tournaments are really enjoyable, and the more good teams the better for the tournaments, the spectators and for rugby as a whole. It would be fantastic if the Olympics were the stimulus to get us to a situation where there are 10 or 15 really competitive rugby nations, first in sevens and then in fifteens. Good luck to Clarrett. It isn't automatic that his skills will transfer but I think running backs from US football and centres in rugby probably have similar attacking skill sets. Defence is a different matter.
     
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  18. jamesblakefan#1

    jamesblakefan#1 G.O.A.T.

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    You're missing half of the story. He only tried to go NFL after he got kicked off OSU team for breaking team rules/accepting money.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Clarett#Dismissal_from_Ohio_State

    "World class" is stretching it. He was never even the best player in CFB. Even if everything had panned out, he wasn't going to be a HOF RB in the NFL given his size and lack of relative speed.
     
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  19. Brettolius

    Brettolius Professional

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    You don't have to be the absolute best or fastest back in football to still have world class athleticism. He was the national champions leading rusher that year, it not like he was some bum. He's not as athletic as say Reggie Bush, true, but it's all relative. To the common guy on the street he might as well be...


    ***sorry I accidentally responded to your first quote and inserted it in the quote box***
     
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  20. CCNM

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    Perhaps it will be good publicity. I know rugby is popular in Great Britian and Australia, but not so much here in the States...
     
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  21. crosscourt

    crosscourt Professional

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    Rugby is a fantastic game and sevens is a very accessible form of rugby. It is really good news that it is in the Olympics. If you get the chance to, watch some of the international HSBC tournaments that are being played at the moment. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
     
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  22. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    #22
  23. hollywood9826

    hollywood9826 Semi-Pro

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    ^^^

    I don tknow the exact difference between Aussie Rules and Rugby. but the ingnorant American in me thinks they are similar enough that this isnt that big of surprise that one can switch rugby to Aussie rules.

    I think Clarett will probably be able to hold his own on what the US has. But we are so behind the world in Rugby it won tmuch matter.

    Maybe it will peek some interset in the sport if he does well though. but there will never be money in it to cause someone who is borderline pro Fottball player to switch.
     
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  24. Zildite

    Zildite Hall of Fame

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    A lot more kicking and tank tops
     
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  25. wrxinsc

    wrxinsc Professional

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    ^ LOL mate.
     
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  26. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    Rugby is far more similar to American football than it is to Aussie Rules.

    (although, in terms of special teams, there have been a few Australians make it in the NFL as punters (Darren Bennett, Saverio Rocca) but no ex rugby players, at least as far as I know)

    There is a young aussie prospect in the draft this year, Jesse Williams, but he only played Rugby until he was 14 or so after which he started playing American Football
     
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  27. hollywood9826

    hollywood9826 Semi-Pro

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    I'll take your word for it.

    The only thing I know about Aussie rules is the little guys that run on the filed and do the funny looking point when someone scores.
     
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