ACL surgery to sideline Nevada RB Devonte Lee for much of 2019

Devonte Lee
Devonte Lee was Nevada's goal line back last season. (John Byrne/Nevada athletics)

Running back is one of Nevada's deepest positions, but that depth has been thinned a little after rising sophomore Devonte Lee had major knee surgery.

Lee has not participated in the Wolf Pack's first four spring camp practices, and Nevada head coach Jay Norvell was asked following Tuesday's practice about his availability.

Norvell said Lee had offseason surgery to repair his ACL, although that doesn't mean his 2019 season has been washed away just yet.

"He had knee surgery and he's going to be out for several months," Norvell said. "Hopefully we get him back the second half of the season. It's something that he had that kind of lingered through the season, and we got it looked at and he had to get it cleaned up at the end of the year."

Lee, the Oklahoma high school offensive player of the year in 2017, joined Nevada last season and played in 11 games as a true freshman. The 5-foot-8, 230-pound bowling ball back had 45 carries for 193 yards and seven touchdowns. The Wolf Pack used him in wildcat formations near the end zone as its goal line back.

Theoretically, Nevada could play Lee in 2019 but not use a season of his eligibility. Thanks to a rule put in place last season, players can appear in up to four games and use it as a redshirt year. Since Lee played last season, he could use his redshirt in 2019 as long as he plays four games or fewer, which the Wolf Pack could finagle if Lee is medically cleared late in the season.

"I'm hoping we can get him back maybe late October, early November," Norvell said.

If there's one position Nevada could afford an injury, it is running back, where the team has three capable players even after Lee's injury.

Toa Taua, the reigning Mountain West freshman of the year, rushed for 872 yards (4.9 yards per carry) and six touchdowns as a rookie in 2018. Senior Kelton Moore, who has 14 career starts, carried the ball 90 times for 433 yards (4.8 ypc) with four touchdowns last season. And senior Jaxson Kincaide, who has seven career stars, had 36 touches for 230 yards and four touchdowns last year. That trio should be one of the better groups in the MW.

"It was a very deep position and then it got a little less deep," Norvell said of Lee's injury. "The big thing is we have a great three-prong attack there with three guys who are really capable starters. Kelton and Jaxson are capable starters and then Toa came in. It gives us a lot of depth and we're going to use those guys a lot of different ways. We may even get into some two-back sets where both Kelton and Toa are both in the backfield."

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