LINCOLN, Neb - A day after announcing they sophomore De'Mornay Pierson-El would be out 6-8 weeks with a foot injury, Nebraska head coach Mike Riley met with the media on Thursday after the Huskers' practice.
"He's been through his deal in the hospital," said Riley. "As we were told. It went well. It's now all about biology. Our goal for him is to return and play this year. How soon, I'm hesistate to say because I don't want to put anything on him."
Riley said Pierson-El suffered a Jones fracture during a non-contact drill to his right foot.
"It's one thing being healed and another about being ready to play," said Riley.
An All-American punt returner in 2014, Pierson-El looked like he would be a major threat in the Nebraska receiving game this season, after finishing last year on a strong note. Speical teams coach Bruce Read said on Thursday junior Jordan Westerkamp would fill in on punt returns for the time being.
Six weeks would sideline the former Virginia prep until after the non-conference portion of Nebraska's schedule - which includes games against BYU and Miami. Eight weeks would potentially put the Huskers' matchup with Big Ten West rival Wisconsin in jeopdary.
A Big Ten Player to Watch in 2015, Pierson-El recorded 23 catches for 321 yards and four touchdowns as a receiver in 2014, but made his impact on special teams, proving to be one of the best punt returners in the country.
The true freshman had 34 returns, for 596 yards (17.5 average) and three scores. It could have easily been five to six touchdowns. His play on special teams earned him second-team All-American honors by the USA Today and Football Writers Association.
Pierson-El was also supposed to be the star in Riley's jet-sweep game this season.