Ross Denies He's Leaving Buckeyes

By RUSTY MILLER, AP Sports Writer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Tailback Lydell Ross said Tuesday there was no truth to a rumor that he was transferring out of Ohio State because he was stuck behind freshman sensation Maurice Clarett.

At least one radio call-in show and one television reporter discussed a possible transfer by Ross, saying he may be headed back to his home state to play for Florida State. But Ross said he hadn't considered transferring and certainly not to Florida State.

"That rumor is totally false," the sophomore from Tampa, Fla., said Tuesday. "I have no idea where that came from. I think I'm in a great situation here at Ohio State. That's why I am here. That's why I'm going to stay."

Ross came into the current season as Ohio State's leading returning rusher with 419 yards a year ago while backing up senior Jonathan Wells.

But Ross has watched with some consternation as Clarett graduated from Warren G. Harding High School early, enrolled at Ohio State last January and then stepped into the starter's spot ahead of him through spring and August workouts.

Clarett gained 471 yards in the No. 6 Buckeyes' first three games but missed last week's 23-19 victory over Cincinnati because of arthroscopic knee surgery. Ross took his place and gained a career-best 130 yards on 23 carries.

Clarett is still recuperating from the surgery, and Ross said Tuesday he expected to again get the bulk of the carries against Indiana in Ohio State's Big Ten opener on Saturday.

"Lydell doesn't lack confidence," head coach Jim Tressel said. "And he shouldn't."

Ross said he was stunned to hear about the rumor.

"I was more shocked than upset," he said. "It's crazy, man, I just can't see why rumors like that can just get out without me even mentioning anything about transferring."

Ross said Florida State wasn't among his top five college choices when he was being recruited.

He said he could be content dueling with Clarett for playing time and carries.

"I'm going to challenge him. I'm going to give him competition," Ross said. "We'll see what goes on in the future."

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)