Maurice Washington may not be back.
“He won't play this week,” head coach Scott Frost said Monday afternoon when asked about the sophomore running back. “We don't see him being a part of our plans in the immediate future, and the farther-out future, we'll have to determine that based on some circumstances.
“We just expect all of our players to conduct themselves in a certain manner, and there's certain things that are non-negotiable, and they have to live up to those standards.”
That leaves the Huskers without one of their leading running back and it leaves the room with two viable scholarship runners—junior Dedrick Mills and true freshman Rahmir Johnson. Fellow freshman Ronald Thompkins has already been shut down for the season and sophomore Jaylin Bradley is behind two walk-ons on the depth chart.
Frost wants to ultimately redshirt Johnson this season to save the year. But he has already been used in two games and if circumstances change, the Huskers have to use him.
Frost is likely going to take flak for this.
The sophomore tailback didn’t participate in the April spring game earlier in the year because of his legal situation in California, but after a first-half suspension in the season-opener against South Alabama, Frost said punishment wouldn’t be handed out until after his case had been adjudicated.
When he took the job in December of 2017, Washington became one of his top targets for the transition class. He was a signing day win. At a camp four months later, Frost told campers Nebraska wasn’t going to recruit kids with anything “negative about women” or “anything racial or about sexuality” on their social media profiles.
A year later, Washington is facing child pornography charges in California stemming from an incident that took place before he enrolled at UNL.
It’s easy to question his decisions in hindsight, and some have already started wondering what Washington could have done now to cost him playing time when felony and misdemeanor charges didn’t before, but Frost says he wouldn’t handle anything differently.
The head coach is being guided by his own moral compass.
“Listen, Coach [Tom] Osborne was this way,” he said. “He wasn't quick to crumble kids up and throw them away. Some of the kids that are in some of those situations, if they're gone and out of this program, that road doesn't lead to very many good places. As long as I'm here, I'm going to try to help these young men as much as I can.
“That's the promise I make to their parents when I sit in their living room and tell them we're going to try to help them no matter what. There's certain things that they know if they do, I'm not going to help them and they're on their own. But, I want what's best for all these guys, so we're going to try to continue to help them as long as they can be helped.
“There always comes a point where you have to throw your hands up and say, ‘We tried,’ but until then, we want to do what's right by them because I think that's the right thing to do. We certainly tried to do everything we can for Mo, and hopefully it works out well.”
You’ll find most coaches across the country operate the same way. Frost may not want to cut ties with a young man in need of guidance, but he also knows remedying this situation takes both parties’ cooperation.
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.