Definition of Redshirt (College Football)

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What does the term "redshirt" mean in the world of college football? What is meant by the term "redshirt"?

The term "redshirt" refers to when a player participates on a college football team but doesn't use a year of eligibility.

The meaning of the term Redshirt when it comes to freshmen in college football is explained.  If a player participates in more than four games, they are considered to have used a year of eligibility.


Why would somebody "redshirt"?

Let's say that you have a player straight out of high school that is a top quarterback prospect. This player is talented but they are still physically developing.

The starting quarterback for the college is a legend and will likely go high in the NFL draft. The quarterback straight out of high school will likely take their spot, so they can't do so yet as the current quarterback is so good.

This young player, with the blessing of the school, decides to become a "redshirt". This means that he will not use a year of eligibility, even though he will be taking college classes at the school.

This young player can practice with the team and play up to four games without burning a year of eligibility.

The school decides that he will use the year to learn the playbook and bulk up a bit.

By the time that the next year rolls around, this young player will still be a true freshman, despite the fact that they will be in their second year of college.


"Redshirts" used to dress in practice in red jerseys, which is where the term originated.