Running back Maurice Washington wasn’t even in the building Monday morning when the Huskers’ opened their second week of spring practice. Media was allowed inside for the first 30 minutes, and everyone wanted to know where the sophomore was.
When he met with the media after practice, head coach Scott Frost revealed that Washington had left for California Sunday night to self-surrender.
“He’s in California getting processed today,” Frost said. “That’s pretty much all I know. Working through his lawyer, I know he wanted to get out there and surrender and satisfy the warrant as quickly as he could.”
The plan is to go through processing Monday morning and be back in Lincoln Monday night.
“We’re hopeful he’ll be back and at least going to class tomorrow,” Frost said.
In February, an arrest warrant was signed for Washington in relation to an incident in March of 2018. Washington faces two charges in Santa Clara County.
Washington is accused of sending a video depicting an alleged sexual assault of his former girlfriend to that girl in March of 2018. Because the video was taken two years prior, while the girl was under the age of 18, and Washington sent the video while legally deemed an adult, he is facing a felony charge of distribution of child pornography as well as a misdemeanor charge under California’s “Revenge Porn” law because, it’s alleged, he sent the video to inflict emotional damage on the victim.
Frost said he’s not aware yet of all the details of the case and won’t comment any further until he does, but added that he and Washington have spoken about the situation on several occasions.
“I’m just not going to know much until I get a lot more detail and right now he’s in his lawyer’s hands,” Frost said. “I don’t want to have anything to do with what’s going on out there. We’re going to do everything we can to cooperate with that process. I’ve talked to him several times, mostly about how he’s going to behave from here forward and what role he’s going to have at practice, those types of things.
“We’re keeping everything that has to do with California out in California.”
Frost said last week that Washington would be a limited participant in spring practices.
According to a report from the Omaha World-Herald, a court date has been set in Washington’s case: April 10. Nebraska’s annual Red-White Spring Game is April 13.
Other News and Notes
>> In Washington’s absence, Nebraska currently has two scholarship running backs going through spring practice — senior Wyatt Mazour and sophomore Jaylin Bradley. Running backs coach Ryan Held said freshman Wan’Dale Robinson and redshirt freshman Miles Jones would see some reps at running back but both are primarily working with the wide receivers.
“Running back is one of the positions we’re thin right now,” Frost said. “Wyatt has been hurt, today was his first practice back. The rest of them are walk-ons who are doing a good job and trying hard. We certainly don’t have the people we need at that position to have it look like it needs to yet. These guys are going to get a lot of reps and opportunities, the guys that are here, so hopefully some of them take advantage of it.”
One guy who seems to be doing just that is redshirt freshman walk-on Brody Belt.
“Brody Belt has done a really good job, he had a great day today, he’s had a really good offseason and I like where he’s at right now,” Held said of the Omaha native. “Brody’s consistent, he understands the offense.”
In the fall, JUCO runner Dedrick Mills will arrive along with freshmen Rahmir Johnson and Ronald Thompkins. Thompkins is recovering from ACL surgery but it’s very possible the other two factor into a rotation this upcoming season. But, until they get here, look for someone like Belt to make a case for reps this spring.
MORE: Frost | Walters | Photos | Sights & Sounds
>> Robinson did not practice Monday, but was on the field moving around with the team without any noticeable limp. Frost said it’s nothing serious.
“Wan’Dale has a minor little hamstring strain,” he said. “When we get those, we just don’t want a little thing to turn into a big thing so he’ll be back up and going. I thought he would go today but he didn’t. I’m pretty confident he’ll be back out there.”
>> One thing that was evident during the open portion of practice was the pace. It looks even faster than last season.
“Yes, mainly due in part because the guys have gone through it and they know it,” quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco said. “And then a little bit is the cubes because we kind of set the tempo for that next play getting run off, so they feel a heck of a lot more comfortable. Whether it’s a tempo play or it’s just an isolated play, they’re making those calls a heck of a lot faster.”
And yes, freshman Luke McCaffrey is in that group. As Verduzco put it, McCaffrey isn’t swimming right now and is able to keep up with that pace. “He has the baseline part of it,” Verduzco said.
>> Verduzco also commented on the back-up quarterback spot, which could be as large as a four-man race between scholarship guys Noah Vedral and McCaffrey and walk-ons Andrew Bunch and Matt Masker.
“I’m sure it’ll be fast and furious,” he said. “As Coach Frost has used that phrase, he wants them to compete like brothers. The room is good. It’s positive, there is none of that negativity. None of those little cliques which is good. That’s the worst thing that can happen. It’ll be furious, they’ll compete like brothers and we will see where it shakes out at the end of spring.”
>> Offensive line coach Greg Austin has some leaders in his room. Junior tackle (yeah, tackle) Matt Farniok is one of them. But Austin wants more.
"We need as many leaders as we can get,” he said. “There's going to be adversity this year. If it's the same guy… and I'm afraid to say it that we had good leaders last year but we didn't have very many. As many leaders as we can get up front and in every position of the team, the better.
“Now, leadership has its different roles. [Brenden Jaimes] is not as vocal of a guy as Matt Farniok. Boe Wilson is not as vocal of a guy as Matt Farniok or [Jaimes]. But all of those guys have some sort of leadership quality that we're looking to extract from them that they can affect the man to the right and to the left of them. Certainly [Jaimes] has been more vocal and we're going to ask him to be more vocal but more so than being vocal, we have to be do-ers.
“There's a standard. There's a standard and holding each other accountable. Holding the man to the left and the right of you accountable. Right now, in some cases, we just need to work on the first standard. He's doing a good job with that. The whole man to the right and left accountable is the thing we're really trying to hammer down."
>> Frost really wants the tight ends to be more involved in the passing game this season. Freshman Chris Hickman is limited, but Nebraska has everyone else and Frost likes the depth there.
“Those guys need to be a little more of a threat in the pass game this year,” he said. “Every one of those guys has taken a big step forward since last fall so I feel that’s a position where we’re going to have depth and be really solid.”
>> Nebraska doesn’t run the “Oklahoma” drill. It runs “The Nebraska Drill.” The Huskers ran a modified version of it during Monday’s practice, with a runner, a lineman and a downfield blocker. Frost said they just can’t call it what “Nebraska’s old rival to the south” called it.
>> Offensive coordinator and wideout coach Troy Walters called freshman wideout Jamie Nance “one of the more explosive guys that we have on the team.” Nance’s goal now is getting comfortable in the playbook.
>> JoJo Domann spent the entire day Monday working with the outside linebackers. He looks the part and Frost says he’s a major playmaker on the field.
>> Outside linebackers coach Jovan Dewitt was at practice Monday coaching up the outside backers. He’s currently battling a form of throat cancer and though Frost said earlier the rest of the staff was going to give Dewitt as much time off as he needed, Dewitt was on the field with everyone else Monday.
Derek is a newbie on the Hail Varsity staff covering Husker athletics. In college, he was best known as ‘that guy from Twitter.’ He has covered a Sugar Bowl, a tennis national championship and almost everything in between (except an NCAA men’s basketball tournament game… *tears*). In his spare time, he can be found arguing with literally anyone about sports.