By JOHN SLEEPER
SEATTLE – Offensive guard Rock Nelson might never again play for the Washington Huskies.
A Shorecrest High School grad, Nelson missed the Huskies’ last two games because of a lingering back problem. He missed the Huskies’ last two games because of the condition and is questionable at best for Washington’s game Saturday at Stanford.
Nelson, a junior, missed most of preseason camp in August with a bulging disk, which forced him to sit out several games last season.
Nelson will be examined this week.
“While I don’t want to take Rock’s dream of playing football away from him, I also don’t want to take his dream of playing with his kids away from him, either,” UW coach Rick Neuheisel said. “I’m going to let doctors decide that, but you’ve got to ask yourself, ‘At what cost?’ “
After missing the first two games of the season, Nelson played extensively against Colorado. He spent the following bye week in pain and avoided any heavy contact in practice. He has played little since.
“I think it’s at the point in Rock’s career where we’ve got to decide if football is still in his best interest,” Neuheisel said.
Shortly after Neuheisel came to Washington from Colorado, new Buffaloes coach Gary Barnett accused him of improperly contacting CU players, to possibly entice them to follow him to Washington. Although Neuheisel claimed he simply wanted to bid them farewell, he agreed to cease calling them and the UW agreed to not accept any transfers from Colorado.
But Barton said he badly wanted to come to Washington, and the UW came up with the proposal. He has been playing at San Francisco City College this season.
The plan now must be approved by the NCAA.
Then the Cardinal lost three straight, to Arizona, Notre Dame and Oregon State, before beating USC 32-30 on a 20-yard scoring pass from Chris Lewis to Jamie McCullum on the game’s last play.
Still, Stanford is at the bottom of the Pac-10 in scoring; eighth in total defense and scoring defense; and ninth in rushing defense.
But Cardinal coach Tyrone Willingham says the players are keeping their heads up.
“We have a pretty good self-image and what we believe we can accomplish,” he said. “Sometimes, you’re just growing or shaping yourself into that image. But I think that our guys understand that we can do some very good things in our football program.”
The NCAA Eligibility Clearinghouse has been examining Johnson’s transcripts from McClintock High School in Chandler, Ariz. Meanwhile, Johnson has moved to Seattle, unable to enroll in school and unable to practice with the team.
Johnson started fall camp with the Huskies, but was declared ineligible pending the Clearinghouse’s probe.
“I’m nauseous at what’s happening,” said Neuheisel, who said he wasn’t clear as to what the delay is.
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