What Is A Redshirt Freshman In Football?

A redshirt freshman in football is a player that is in their second year of school yet their first year of athletic participation. In college, athletes are given four years of eligibility in their sport though using redshirting these players can spread this eligibility through five or six years of schooling.

In other words, athletes are allowed to compete in their sport for four seasons. But if a player utilizes redshirting he or she can sit out of competition for the first year of games and still maintain their four years of eligibility.

Redshirting players are still able to practice, condition, and receive academic assistance from the team. A redshirt year is usually time spent honing your skills so that your years of eligibility are used effectively.

If you are a redshirt freshman that means you redshirted your first year of eligibility. So even though it is your second year at the school it is your first year competing in your sport.

This marks the difference between a redshirt freshman and a true freshman. As a true freshman is a player that is playing in their first year at their college.

Redshirting in football is not to be confused with black shirts or gray shirting which are explained in other articles on the site.

Why Is It Called Redshirting?

The term redshirt is said to come from a football player for the Nebraska Cornhuskers who decided to sit out a season of competition in order to improve his play. These players still practice with the team yet does so in a red jersey with no numbers.

This numberless jersey came to be referred to as a redshirt after which the term was coined. At the time this was the first instance of a player sitting out a year of competition in order to improve his play.

How Many Years Can You Redshirt?

At most colleges and universities an athlete is able to redshirt for two years this means they can spend a total of six years at the school.

Though they are still only able to participate in four collegiate seasons of athletics regardless of the number of redshirt years.

Advantages And Disadvantages

Redshirting is a huge decision in college sports and like most choices, it comes with pros and cons. Below we will compare the advantages and disadvantages of redshirting in football.


More Time To Understand The Playbook

One beneficial aspect of redshirting for a year is the time you will have to learn the playbook. It is no surprise that college football playbooks are tough to understand. This is especially true for players coming out of high school.

Redshirted players may use this time to understand exactly what is going to expect out of their position when the time comes to play.

Get Your Body Into Shape

Getting your body into the shape demanded by a college football team is quite a difficulty on its own. Having a year with strength coaches and nutritionists will allow football players to get their bodies into the best shape of their life.

Much like the playbook when it comes to college football these coaches are going to demand a lot more out of you than in high school. This year of training will help athletes bridge that gap.

Acclimate To College Life

Outside of the sport itself, some players have trouble acclimating to college life. Taking this on plus all the responsibilities of playing your sport can be tough. By taking a redshirt season players may find themselves acclimating to college life quicker.

This will make it easier on them when the time comes around to play football the following year.


Don’t Always Get To Travel With The Team

Most collegiate sports teams have budgets and the majority do not include travelling redshirt players around throughout the year. This means by taking a redshirt year you will likely miss out on travelling with the team.

This means you may miss out on some of the team bonding and comradery that will take place throughout your first year of school.

Losing A Year Of Athletic Ability

If you plan on playing your sport professionally then spending a year not competing can be seen as a flaw. If a player is going to the NFL it is their best interest to get to the league as fast as possible.

In order to have a long career, you want to be drafted at a young age. By spending an extra year in college you will be losing one year of athletic ability.

What Is A Red Shirt Senior?

A redshirt senior is a player that is now in his last year of eligibility and was previously redshirted to start their college career. In other words, these players are in their fifth year of school and their fourth year of eligibility.

These players have an advantage over younger players as their extra year of redshirting allows them to be older than non redshirt players in their senior season.

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