Maurice Washington is a Nebraska Cornhusker, Scott Frost assures. Plain and simple.
When the talented young running back might see the field, though, remains a question.
Washington, a class of 2018 signee, recently moved from Trinity Christian in Cedar Hills, Texas, back to California late in his senior year. His head coach in Texas, Aveion Cason, confirmed this week that Washington was expelled from school there, but that he’s doing well.
It’s been a long road for the four-star running back, who lost his father when he was a child and was forced to sit out his junior year of high school football because of a transfer situation in California. Frost, though, is adamant that Washington has NU’s full support and that he is on a good track.
“When a kid commits to us, we’re going to commit to him,” Frost said in a phone interview Thursday. “We’re not going to drop a kid because somebody we think is a little better might come along or a kid gets hurt his senior year. Once they give their word to us that they’re going to be a part of our program, we’re going to stick with them as long as we need to.
“Maurice has had some real off-the-field trials to go through, transferring a couple of times and the loss of his father, and I think that’s probably affected his school work. But we’re optimistic he’s doing good work now and we’re going to do everything we can to stick with him and be in lockstep with him for him to get here and get eligible.”
Frost said the focus remains on trying to get Washington eligible for this fall and thus he didn’t want to look too far past that course.
“We have a good idea of the work that he still needs to get done to become an NCAA qualifier, and we’ll try to point him in the right direction,” Frost said. “The rest is up to him.”
On Wednesday, Washington tweeted, "I love you guys so much thank you for the support I’m doing well the road is tough but so is everyone’s else’s."
I love you guys so much thank you for the support I’m doing well the road is tough but so is everyone’s else’s 👌🏾 #stayblessed— maurice washington 3 (@Mo_is_blessed) May 16, 2018
The possibility remains, though, that Washington will have to apply for an academic redshirt.
In order to qualify for an academic redshirt, Washington must graduate high school with the minimum 16 core high school credits and earn the requisite standardized testing score. If the redshirt is granted, he would be able to attend NU as a freshman in the fall. While he would not be able to play for the Huskers, he also would not lose a year of eligibility and then would be a redshirt freshman in 2019.
The need to graduate in time to arrive at NU is why, after being expelled at Trinity Christian, Washington immediately moved back to California to get enrolled and continue working toward the credit mark.
If Washington is unable to qualify — an outcome Trinity Christian coaches and Frost are confident will not happen — he would likely head to a junior college to begin his collegiate career.
The Huskers are confident, though, that they at some point will have the services of what they believe is a very talented player. Washington racked up 1,253 rushing yards (10.2 per carry) and 582 receiving yards (22.9 per catch) and scored 24 total touchdowns as a senior.
As a signee, Washington will count against the Huskers' 85-man scholarship limit for 2018 even if he is not immediately eligible.
Elsewhere in the Husker backfield, Frost said the medical and coaching staffs are committed to giving junior running back Tre Bryant as much time as he needs to get healthy and attempt to get back to playing.
The St. Louis native is continuing to try to recover from a knee injury that has bothered him for years, limited him to less than two games in 2017 and eventually required surgery later in the fall.
“Tre’s anxious to get back, and we’re getting good reports,” Frost said. “The minute he’s healthy and able to go, we’re anxious to get him back on the field and see what he can do.”
Both Washington and Bryant are shaping up to be summer-long (or beyond) uncertainties. The staff is flatly supporting each in his own attempt to get on the field, but it's not known if either will contribute or when that might happen, and it doesn't appear as if resolution in either case is going to come in the near future.
That means NU will proceed through the summer knowing with certainty only that it has the same group of backs that participated in spring ball plus slot/backfield weapon Miles Jones.