RENO - J.J. Milan's senior season ended before it really got started.
Milan, a fixture at defensive end the last three years at Nevada, re-aggravated a foot injury that he had surgery on in March and will be lost for the season.
He is the third player to be lost for the season. Cornerback Paul Pratt tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and center Kyle Gosselin suffered a shoulder injury. Pratt will have two years left, and Gosselin was already in his fifth season. He missed all of last year with a foot injury. It's not know whether he is eligible for a medical redshirt.
Milan, who fractured his foot on March 12, had been switched to outside linebacker in Nevada's new 3-4 scheme, and had been expected to be a big playmaker with his pass-rushing skills.
It isn't certain whether Milan will have surgery on his left foot. Nevada officials are seeking a second medical opinion on the surgery.
"It will be a challenge for somebody to step up and replace him," said Ken Wilson, Nevada's assistant head coach. "Luckily he has a redshirt year. This will give him a chance to get healthy."
Sophomore Nick Fuhr, who played inside linebacker a year ago, and true freshman Josh Mauga from Fallon have moved into the top two spots on the depth chart in that order. Fuhr is eager for the opportunity to prove himself after playing sparingly last year.
"I've been waiting all year for it (a chance)," said Fuhr, who came to Nevada from Alaska. "I saw J.J. walk off the field last week, but I didn't have time to think about it.
"I've been right behind J.J. at one spot all fall camp. I feel like I know this defense very well. It makes it easy when you already know what you are doing. I felt I caught on pretty easy. I feel like I picked things up pretty fast."
Still, the 6-2, 245-pound Fuhr admits he was apprehensive when he was moved to the outside in the spring.
"I'd played inside all my life," he said. "I feel more confident now. I think it utilizes my strength. Instead of having to go against interior linemen, I go against tight ends (and running backs). I can play a lot better out here."
Mauga has impressed Nevada coaches during summer camp. Head coach Chris Ault said early on that Mauga had an excellent chance to play immediately. This chance might have come sooner than even Ault expected.
Darrell Moody can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling (775) 881-1281