Definition of Freshman

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What does the term "freshman" mean in the world of college sports? What does the term "freshman" mean?

In sports like college football or college basketball (or any other number of college sports), a "freshman" is an athlete that is participating in their first year of athletic competition.

The King explains the meaning of the term Freshman when it comes to college sports in the United States of America.  In photo:  A basketball player going for the layup.Year 1 - Freshman
Year 2 - Sophomore
Year 3 - Junior
Year 4 - Senior

A true freshman athlete is eligible to play and practice for the team.

A "redshirt freshman" is an athlete that can practice with a team but not play, without losing a year of eligibility.

This is often seen in quarterback prospects that spend a year practicing and learning the playbook.


In many cases for team sports, a freshman athlete will spend most of their first year on the sidelines, as they will usually have to wait to earn their playing time, as juniors and seniors will usually occupy the starting spots.

In those more unusual cases, however, freshmen athletes will make big splashes immediately. Zion Williamson and Trevor Lawrence are just two examples of this.