Scott Frost believes Maurice Washington will be 'special'; Luke Gifford solid in return from injury

Scott Frost said Maurice Washington has made "probably a dozen" spectacular plays during training camp.

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LINCOLN — Coach Scott Frost made no particular effort to slow down the hype train on freshman running back Maurice Washington.

Washington has been on campus one week, weighs 170 pounds and hasn’t eaten or lifted  the same as his teammates. But it’s football, and Washington is still good at carrying one.

“He’s had probably a dozen big plays, spectacular plays already in this camp,” Frost said. “He’s definitely opening some eyes and I think he’s got a bright future here. I’d say, at this point, he’s better than what I expected.

“It’s amazing. He hadn’t worked out much. He was focused on academics, he was working. I don’t think he was eating and getting all the nutrition he needed. He showed up quite a bit lighter than he was on his recruiting visit. So we didn’t know what we would get. But he’s going to be a special player.”

Frost praised running back Tre Bryant — returning from knee surgery — and senior Devine Ozigbo, who cut weight in the offseason.

“The big difference in our offense is, when you get a crease, are you going to get five, are you going to get 12 or are you going to go the whole way?” Frost said. “I think getting in shape and getting leaner for Devine has been big for him. He’s at least a step faster.”

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Gifford solid in his return

Nebraska outside linebacker Luke Gifford was one of NU’s better defenders until a hip injury sidelined him for the back half of last season and spring practices.

Now Gifford has performed well in fall camp, Frost said.

“I’d say he’s exceeded my expectations, too,” Frost said. “He was still getting his sea legs under him at the beginning of camp, but he’s athletic, he’s big, he had pass-rushing skill, plays hard. He’s what you’re looking for.”

Gifford was one of five Huskers Frost picked out when asked which players were epitomizing toughness and physicality in camp. Frost also named receiver Stanley Morgan and inside linebackers Mohamed Barry, Will Honas and Dedrick Young.

Quick hits

Nebraska’s secondary created more takeaways on the first day of training camp than it did in five days of spring practices, said Frost, who called turnover margin the biggest stat in football.

“We’re ball aware and ball disruptive,” he said.

Two scholarship outside linebackers — Quayshon Alexander and Sedrick King — did not make the 110-man roster. Alexander, a sophomore, will miss the 2018 season while rehabbing an injury, Frost said. King, a senior, is away from the team handling personal issues in his home state of Florida. Frost said King will decide when he returns to school whether he wants to continue playing.

While Frost joked that Husker players may not love their new warm-up regimen , which he borrowed from an Oregon track coach , it gets them ready for practice in a short amount of time.

“It’s kind of a rite of passage, too, to not just go through stretch, but really dominate stretch,” Frost said. “It’s a mentality thing for us.”

After a weekend scrimmage, Nebraska will adjust how it allocates repetitions, giving more reps to players more likely to play during the season.

Nebraska’s next media availability is Tuesday.