Add a playmaker to the Nebraska football backfield.
Freshman signee Maurice Washington is a full qualifier and will be eligible to play for the Huskers this fall, a spokesperson confirmed to the Journal Star on Wednesday afternoon.
Washington later tweeted, "To God Be the glory I wanna thank all the coaches, my parent and everyone who never gave up on me and I'm gonna prove all the haters wrong!! GO BIG (RED)!!"
Washington, 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, is a four-star prospect out of Trinity Christian High in Texas, but was an academic question mark since well before he signed with Nebraska in February.
Washington began his prep career near his native San Jose, California, but transferred to Trinity Christian, the third high school of his career, for the 2017 season.
There he burst onto the scene, earning an invitation to the Under Armour All-America game in January. There, he scored three touchdowns and earned MVP honors.
All along, NU coach Scott Frost has maintained confidence that Washington would complete the work he needed to in order to join the program this summer.
Many wondered if perhaps Washington would have to take an academic redshirt or even enroll in a junior college as a nonqualifier, but instead he immediately becomes a player to watch in the Husker backfield.
In May, a report suggested that Washington was trending toward the academic redshirt route after he was expelled from Trinity Christian and returned home to San Jose to enroll in summer classes and attempt to finish his schoolwork there.
It was clear then that Washington would not arrive on campus along with most of the remaining freshman class, but Frost was adamant in his support.
“When a kid commits to us, we’re going to commit to him,” Frost said May 17. “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 schoolwork. 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.”
As camp drew near, naturally the interest grew about his status. Last week, Frost expressed his confidence again that Washington would make it to campus, and early Wednesday morning, Washington tweeted a photo of a conditional acceptance letter to UNL. But until Wednesday afternoon, the university did not officially know his fate.
Now he'll arrive on campus as perhaps the single most intriguing nonquarterback story line of preseason camp.
"He’s a very good player and he’s another guy that, he’ll get thrown in the fire to give him an opportunity to come in and make an immediate impact," running backs coach Ryan Held said in February. "I was pretty fired up when he put on the Nebraska hat, and that was a big win as a staff. There was a lot of hard work that went into him, just like all of our kids. Every kid is a win."
Washington began his high school career at King’s Academy, a private school in Sunnyvale, California, but left the school after rushing for 1,800 yards and 29 touchdowns as a sophomore. He transferred to a public school and football powerhouse Oak Grove in San Jose, California, near his home, but was ruled ineligible because the move was deemed to be driven by football.
He then transferred to Texas and rushed for 1,253 yards (10.2 per carry) and 15 touchdowns, and added 582 receiving yards (22.9 per catch) and nine more scores as a senior before the final twist that forced him back to Oak Grove.
Washington enters a backfield that in the spring featured Arizona Western transfer Greg Bell, seniors Mikale Wilbon and Devine Ozigbo, sophomore Jaylin Bradley and others.
The only remaining question mark among Husker freshmen now is wide receiver Dominick Watt. Last month, offensive tackle Willie Canty III opted to attend Garden City (Kansas) Community College after failing to academically qualify.