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Rapid Reaction: Frost speaks on Maurice Washington situation; Jovan Dewitt update

March 6, 2019

Nebraska football coach Scott Frost said sophomore running back Maurice Washington will be a limited participant in spring practice as his legal case in California plays itself out.

An arrest warrant was filed for Washington after he was charged with a misdemeanor under California’s “revenge porn” law, and with a felony child porn charge after he allegedly sent in 2018 an ex-girlfriend a video of her being sexually assaulted.

“I’m troubled anytime anybody that’s involved with our team conducts himself in a way that sheds a negative light on our team or university. We take that seriously,” Frost said. “Our players and everybody involved in our program needs to understand that they just don’t represent themselves, they represent our team, the University of Nebraska, the athletic department and the whole state.

“That’s a lot of responsibility, but there’s a lot of benefits that come along with being a player at the University of Nebraska, too. I’m disappointed anytime there’s a negative shown in any piece of our athletic department.”

Frost said he and the university hope to “gain a lot more clarity” on the situation “really soon” as the legal process moved forward.

Washington will still be part of spring practice, Frost said, but in a more limited role. Frost said he was unsure how much Washington would be at practice, depending on how the details of the investigation play out.

Frost said any decision on Washington’s status with the team won’t be made until the legal investigation is complete. That decision, Frost added, will be made in conjunction with the head coach and the university.

“I think anytime anybody on our team 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 on the team in jeopardy,” Frost said. “But to me, it’s important to have clear understanding of the situation before that decision is made.”

Frost reiterated that the team knew few details of the nature of the investigation last fall, only that officials in California had requested an interview with Washington.

“The extent of what we knew about this was that one of the members of our staff was contacted for an interview by (the office of) the attorney general of Nebraska. At that time, several of us in the second floor (of Memorial Stadium) had a relationship with the former attorney general of Nebraska (Jon Bruning) and we contacted him to represent him (Maurice) in that questioning,” Frost said. “At that time, I knew it was a matter that took place when he was in high school, and the impression I was given was that it wasn’t something they thought would elevate to a level that required any more action by us. The next I heard about it was in January, so I don’t know what anybody could’ve done any differently in the fall.”

The coach also shot down speculation that Nebraska allowed Washington to play last fall while also knowing the details of the investigation.

“That’s completely not true,” Frost said. “Any time there’s an investigation or our players are questioned any way, it’s our job to step back and let the legal process run its course and cooperate in any way we can. There weren’t any charges in the fall.

“I knew the little that was told to me in the fall, and that was that he was wanted for questioning. Knew very little beyond that, and I don’t think it’s my place to do investigations. In fact, that’s when a lot of people get themselves in trouble”

Dewitt continues fight: In light of outside linebackers coach/special teams coordinator Jovan Dewitt battling a form of throat cancer, Frost shared the message he says he shares with his team every year.

“This is important, but football isn’t life. And any time a situation like this comes up, it enforces that,” Frost said. “He’s certainly fighting a fight that’s bigger than any game we’ll play this fall.”

In Dewitt’s absence, Frost said, defensive coordinator Erik Chinander and other members of the defensive staff will “be able to pick up the pieces.” Chinander worked with outside linebackers during his time at Oregon.

“The biggest thing is, we’re pulling for (Dewitt) and hoping he makes it through this,” Frost said.

No phones in meetings: Senior defensive back Lamar Jackson said there’s a new rule in place this year: Players aren’t allowed to bring their phones into meeting rooms.

“Ain’t no sneak texting, ain’t none of that stuff. Everybody’s engaged,” Jackson said of the rule put in place by coaches and emphasized by defensive backs coach Travis Fisher. “There’s no time time for distractions. Any time you’re playing football in this facility, you’re here to work and you’re here to get better.”

Frost said the rule may not be quite that strict, but it’s in place for a reason.

“We’re not going to be a police state here when it comes to social media and things like that,” Frost said. “I wouldn’t read too much into that. Haven’t had a problem with that.”

Number update: The newcomers have their uniform numbers, and a handful of players have changed their digits now that spring practices is underway.

The newcomers’ numbers look like this: Wan’Dale Robinson is No. 1, Jamie Nance No. 3, Luke McCaffrey No. 7, Nick Henrich No. 42, Garrett Nelson No. 44, Darrion Daniels No. 79, Chris Hickman No. 87 and Brant Banks No. 99.

As far as players that have changed numbers, Cameron Jurgens went from No. 44 to No. 51 as part of his transition from tight end to center. Caleb Tannor moved from No. 1 to No. 44, and Cam Taylor moved from No. 5 to No. 17.