What is a redshirt senior in college sports?

A redshirt senior is an athlete that is entering their fifth year of college and their fourth year of athletic participation. This means this athlete redshirted for a which entails taking a year off from competing in college sports in order to maintain a year of eligibility.

Athletes in college tend to redshirt in their freshman year. When players realize it is unlikely that they are going to get a lot of playing time on their team they may decide to redshirt.

This allows them to keep their four years of eligibility while still being able to practice and improve at their sport.

When someone is referenced as a redshirt senior this means they have redshirted at some point and now are in their senior season. This means a red shirt senior are in their fifth year of college for this reason redshirt seniors are often referred to as fifth-year seniors.

Benefits of redshirting in college

Now that you know what redshirting is in college sports you may be wondering why players choose to spend a year of college doing it. Below we are going to break down some of the main reasons college athletes redshirt.

Time to fill out your body

muscular football player

One of the best aspects of redshirting for a year is that it allows college athletes to get into the proper shape to play their sports.

In football, college players are going to be noticeably bigger than high school football players for this reason some freshmen may find their body is not quite at the level required to play the sport competitively.

Giving your body a year to mature and grow can often pay dividends in your later years of play.

This is especially true for positions in which there are weight requirements. For example, an offensive lineman cannot get away with weighing 200 pounds in the NCAA.

These players must have enough mass that defenders are unable to move them.

An offensive lineman prospect may show great talent at the high school level but may need time to gain the size and strength necessary to excel at the collegiate level.

This is just one example of why a player may redshirt for a season in order to improve their physical shape.

A year of practice under great coaches

coach and player at football practice

Another reason that redshirt seasons can be helpful in college sports is due to the coaching. When redshirting you are still going to be able to attend practices with your team.

Coming into college as a freshman a large majority of players have not had quality coaching in their respective sport.

Giving themselves a year to train in a high-quality sports program can often greatly improve their game. This way when they start their eligibility they will have reached a good enough level of performance to get playing time on their team.

Avoiding a loaded roster

Another reason a college athlete may choose to redshirt is due to the talent already playing on the team. In certain sports, it can be very important that a player gets playing time in college in order for them to play professionally.

On some occasions, players may find there is a lot of talent at their position meaning they would not get any playing time.

By redshirting some players wait for older more senior students to graduate in order to get a better chance of making the starting lineup.

This way in their first season of eligibility these players can make sure they are getting on the field.

This is common in sports like football in which positions like quarterback only require one player for the majority of the season.

That is all on redshirt seniors in football check out our guide to black shirts in football or what senior night is in football to learn more.

3 thoughts on “What is a redshirt senior in college sports?”

  1. What is the meaning when the QB says Monday Monday Monday 🤔

    • Usually, a term like Monday will be an audible signal that can change the play or protection. Monday doesn’t have as specific meaning in football but teams will use it as a code word they can use to communicate before the snap.

  2. When I graduated from High School and went to play in the Pac-10 I was college ready in size, just not maturity. So I had a redshirt option to get me ready for the next year. As someone who lived it, if anyone is ever asked if it’s a good idea, it’s a great idea. Be a sponge learn everything you can. I had great coaches and they gave me great advice. Ryan Leaf should have redshirted one year he may have done better.


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