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When last we left Maurice Clarett, the former Ohio State All-American turned labor-law pioneer, NFL bust, Israeli gangster and convicted felon was being granted early release from a Toledo prison in April, roughly halfway through a 7 1/2-year sentence for robbery and weapons convictions. He was released to a halfway home, where he still lives. And today, at age 26, he was back in class at Ohio State for the first time in more than seven years. From WBNS-TV in Columbus, Ohio:

Clarett started classes on Monday, after the university allowed him reentry, an Ohio State spokesman said in a statement released Monday evening.

"Maurice Clarett has been granted reentry into The Ohio State University, following a review by the College of Education and Human Ecology," said Jim Lynch, director of media relations for Ohio State. [...]

"This is a surreal feeling to be back at Ohio State in such a supportive environment," Clarett said in a statement. "I have looked forward to being back in school and I'm doing my best to fit in with other students. I don't want to be a distraction or nuisance to the football team or to students on campus."

No chance of that: Once word spread of Clarett's return to campus, the media-relations office was so overwhelmed with calls that it was forced to issue a press release.

Clarett's prison blog showed off the musings of a more humble, mature man, who was taking geriatric and gerontology courses there in pursuit of a long-term goal (seriously) of opening a fitness center for elderly clients. Obviously Ohio State is banking on reform: The last time the university interacted with Clarett, he was accusing OSU of academic fraud and providing illegal benefits after being declared ineligible at the start of his sophomore year in 2003. It went downhill from there.

But today is another day. If Clarett is a changed man, he has every opportunity to prove it, minus that thundering stiff arm in the open field.

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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.

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