LINCOLN — Nebraska running back Maurice Washington appeared in the Huskers’ first spring practice, but he’ll be a “limited participant” because of ongoing legal issues stemming from criminal charges he faces in California for allegedly sending a sexually explicit video to a girl in the video.
NU coach Scott Frost said Washington will be at practice — but perhaps not all of them — as the sophomore works through the legal situation in front of him. Washington’s lawyer, John Ball, has said Washington will return to California at some point to face the charges. As of Tuesday, no hearing date had been set in Santa Clara County Court.
“We’re trying to keep him in as normal of a routine as a student-athlete as we can,” Frost said at his spring opening press conference. “In the meantime, anytime anyone behaves in a way that isn’t consistent with the values of our team or our university, they run the risk of losing playing time or putting their status with the team in jeopardy. But, to me, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the situation before that decision’s made.”
Frost said any final decision about Washington’s status with the team will be made by himself and university administrators.
Running backs coach Ryan Held, Washington’s position coach, said he’s not involved in any decisions and has stayed out of discussions that are above “my pay grade.”
“I’m going to coach the guys who are in the room and out there for practice, whether it’s an injury or circumstances out of my control,” Held said. When Washington isn’t in practice, sophomore Jaylin Bradley, senior Wyatt Mazour and walk-ons Brody Belt and Austin Hemphill are the primary running backs. Receivers Wan’Dale Robinson and Miles Jones also played running back in high school.
Washington was NU’s No. 2 rusher in the fall behind starter Devine Ozigbo. Frost said he had limited knowledge of Washington’s situation during the season, and said it was “completely not true” that NU coaches or administrators may have looked the other way so Washington could play in the games. Washington’s first lawyer, former Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, has told The World-Herald that he informed neither Frost nor any other Husker staffer about the nature of the case. NU’s athletic department learned about the full nature of the case Feb. 8, when it was contacted by an NBC affiliate in the Bay Area for comment on the story.
“I knew the little bit that was told to me in the fall, and that was that he was wanted for questioning,” Frost said. “I knew very little beyond that. I don’t really think it’s my place to do investigations. In fact, I think that’s where a lot of people get themselves in trouble. This will run its course and justice will be served.”
As far as Frost knows, Washington’s legal process is “moving along.” The coach wants clarity soon.
“I’m troubled anytime anyone involved with our team conducts himself in a way that sheds negative light on our team or our university,” Frost said. “We take that seriously.”