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He spent much of his time in the club’s education center helping boys with their homework and proofing math problems, said Paul Haskell, the club’s director of marketing.

“You could really tell that’s where he felt his place was,” Haskell said. “I could tell he definitely wanted to be there.”

Clarett said Omaha fans and people on the street have been welcoming, which initially surprised him.

“It’s obvious I had some public struggles, but they recognize me, we speak and it’s cool,” he said.

Clarett rushed for 1,237 yards in 2002, helping Ohio State to its first national championship in 34 years. He scored the winning touchdown in the second overtime of a dramatic Fiesta Bowl victory over top-ranked Miami.

He was ruled ineligible the following year for taking extra benefits worth thousands of dollars. He sued to enter the NFL draft early, before he was out of high school for three years, but lost in court.

He was drafted by the Denver Broncos in 2005, but he reported to camp out of shape, injured his groin and was cut before the season started. He spent the last 4 1/2 months of his prison sentence in a dormitory-style facility in Columbus that serves as a transition for those getting out of prison.

“He’s not proud of where he’s been,” Mueller said, “but he’s learned from it and wants to show everybody he’s a different person.”

Clarett said prison humbled him and doesn’t presume the NFL would be interested in him again.

“I just deal with the reality of my situation,” he said. “I pretty much don’t get ahead of myself.”