Former Ohio State star running back Maurice Clarett, who served 3 1/2 years in prison for having a hidden gun and holding up two people outside a bar, is back playing football again.

Clarett, who unsuccessfully challenged the NFL's rules regarding underclassmen entering the NFL and later was a washout as a third-round pick of the Broncos, has joined the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League.

The five-team league is entering its second season and includes former NFL players like quarterback Jeff Garcia and running back Ahman Green.

Clarett is expected to practice tonight and will address reporters for the first time on Wednesday.

"I am humbled by the opportunity the Omaha Nighthawks have given me and will dedicate myself on and off the field to prove that I can be a valuable member of the team and the Omaha community,” Clarett said in a press released distributed by the team. “I am committed to working hard to earn the right for a second chance in football and more importantly in life.”

UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue, a former NFL front-office executive, cleared Clarett's return to football. "I met with Maurice Clarett today and additionally reviewed all of the reports surrounding his circumstances," Huyghue said. "I support allowing his return to football and believe he will make the most of this opportunity with the Omaha Nighthawks.”

Said Nighthawks head coach Jeff Jagodzinski: “The team and I are excited to have Maurice Clarett join the Nighthawks family. He will be treated just like every other player on the roster and will be expected to perform to the best of his abilities both on and off the field.”

Clarett starred at Ohio State University leading the Buckeyes to the 2002 BCS National Championship. He rushed for 1,237 yards and 18 touchdowns that season. Clarett was a third round selection of the Denver Broncos in the 2005 NFL Draft.

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