An off-field situation involving a player projected to be a big part of Nebraska’s offense in 2019 will likely bleed into the start of the upcoming campaign.
Scheduled for Thursday of this week, Maurice Washington‘s preliminary appearance in a Santa Clara County (Calif.) Superior Court has instead, provided no plea deal is reached between now and then, been pushed back to the morning of Sept. 3, the Lincoln Journal-Star has reported. That appearance had originally been scheduled for mid-June before it too was pushed back.
Nebraska will open the 2019 season Aug. 31 against South Alabama at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln; whether Washington takes the field remains to be seen.
Appearing in the same Santa Clara County courtroom in April, Washington was arraigned on a pair of charges, one a felony and the other a misdemeanor, in connection to a situation whose genesis was a little over a year ago. In mid-February, a Santa Clara County judge signed a warrant filed a couple of days earlier that sought the arrest of the Nebraska running back for alleged violation of that state’s revenge-porn law. It’s alleged that Washington sent a sexually-explicit 10-second video, recorded two years prior by someone other than Washington, involving a then-15-year-old female and two other boys, neither of whom was Washington, to that same female in early March of 2018. The female has claimed she is being sexually assaulted in the video, which allegedly shows the teenager performing oral sex on one boy while another masturbates.
Washington is facing a felony count of possessing a video or photograph of a person under 18 who is engaging in or simulating sexual conduct and a misdemeanor count of posting a video or photograph of a person engaging in or simulating sexual conduct without consent, leading to the person suffering emotional distress. Washington had dated the alleged victim prior to the video being recorded.
Because of an issue involving Washington’s Lincoln-based attorney not being licensed to practice law in California, the player did not enter a plea during his initial arraignment; the Santa Clara Public Defender’s Office is now serving as Washington’s California counsel.
Scott Frost had confirmed in early March that Washington would be a limited participant in spring practice because of the off-field issue. In also confirming that Washington will not play in the spring game, the head coach stated that, “[o]verall, I think Maurice has done a good job [this spring] trying to stick to the norm and what practice he has done, he’s looked good.”
“We’re going to sit back and let the process play out and see where it lands,” Frost added at the time of the back’s legal entanglement.
At the Big Ten Media Days earlier this month, Frost was vague about Washington’s status for the early part of the schedule as the legal situation continues hanging over his head.
“I don’t think camp’s going to be an issue,” the head coach said according to the Omaha World-Herald. “He’s already been doing some with spring ball and working out with our team. So I don’t think any decision would have to be made because of his legal issues being unresolved until the first game.”
After some academic uncertainty throughout the offseason, Washington was cleared to join the Cornhuskers football team in early August of last year. As a true freshman, and despite the off-field cloud hanging over him from the start of the season, Washington rushed for 455 yards and three touchdowns, numbers that were both good for third on the team. His 24 receptions were also third-best, while his 221 receiving yards were fourth.