While the town hall a football game, you see among your team’s large receivers do a diving catch. The group goes wild and the TV broadcasters rave around the receiver gift a “true freshman.” You’ve never ever heard that a “false freshman” before, so…

What is a true freshman?

A true freshman is a student-athlete in their first year that college. A true freshman might be on your team’s energetic roster and also ready to play. Otherwise, a true freshman might redshirt, which stays clear of them from participating in games however saves a year that eligibility.

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True freshmen have a wide selection of possibilities. Some space stars from the start while rather sit out a year to get an ext playing time later in their college careers. To learn more about true freshmen and also how vital they room to university sports, keep analysis below!

What Is a Redshirt Freshman?

A redshirt freshman is a college athlete who isn’t in their very first year the college, however still has four years of athletic eligibility remaining.

When a player redshirts, they’re still part of the team, but they room not standard to get involved in games during the season.

Student-athletes take it redshirt seasons to preserve their eligibility. As soon as freshmen room redshirted, it’s often since they would otherwise not get much playing time.

Spending the first year practicing and also going come school allows true freshmen to gain a solid footing in academics while they acquire bigger and also stronger.

College is a large adjustment because that young adults. Between an 18-year-old and also a 22-year-old, there might be big differences in physical and also emotional maturity. The extra year watching indigenous the sidelines help close the gap.

Injury is one more reason freshmen may redshirt. If a freshman gets hurt early in the season, and also they intend to miss many games, redshirting guarantee they don’t shed a year of eligibility.

True student in the first year vs Freshman


The ax “freshman” doesn’t describe a player’s scholastic experience; it only indicates that a player is competing in their an initial season of college sports. A freshman have the right to either it is in a “true freshman” or a “redshirt freshman.”

Broadcasters, writers, coaches, and also fans may point out that a player is a true freshman due to the fact that they desire to emphasize the athlete’s youth. In football, a true freshman performing fine is specifically impressive.

To put this right into context, an instance of this emphasis would sound other like, “Just critical year, the child was in high school – he might only it is in a true freshman, but he’s outplaying get an impressive men!”

True student in the first year vs Redshirt Freshman

The difference in between a true freshman and also a redshirt freshman lies in just how much college endure the athlete has. A redshirt freshman visited school and also was part of a university team prior to the existing season.

It may technically be their “sophomore” year based on credit hrs earned, but they’re still a student in the first year in athletics terms.

A true student in the first year is in their very first year together a college college student and first year together a member the a college sports team. If it’s early on enough in the season (pending NCAA rules), a true freshman deserve to redshirt.

Through redshirting, true freshmen forego their ability to play in games for the season, but they gain to start the next year with four years of sports eligibility remaining.

Redshirt freshmen are unlikely come obtain another redshirt year. In rare cases, athletes perhaps stay ~ above a team for 6 years by receiving medical exemptions.

Why Is It dubbed Redshirting?

The ax “redshirt” comes from the red exercise jerseys that reserves wear when they scrimmage versus the starters. The concept of a redshirt traces ago to pre-World war II college football.

In 1938, Nebraska Cornhuskers lineman, Warren Alfson, came to be the an initial redshirted player. Alfson request his coaches to let him emphasis on practice, however not play any type of games, because that his sophomore year.

In exchange, Alfson would certainly earn a 5th year of playing eligibility. The move paid off for Alfson. He became an All-American in 1939 and did the again in 1940.

As Warren Alfson showed, redshirting isn’t minimal to true freshmen. Football player of every classes deserve to redshirt.

Reasons to Redshirt


While redshirting originates native young players acquisition a year to construct their skills, there space multiple factors to redshirt.

Development is a usual reason for true freshmen come redshirt, return sophomores and juniors might redshirt because that the extra year of practice as well.Injuries, if serious enough, have the right to take an athlete out for months. When this happens, an injured player may attain a medical redshirt.Transferring native one school to an additional may result in a obligated redshirt. Depending on the sport and the circumstances, the NCAA may require carry athletes come sit out one year before competing because that their brand-new school.

One historical exemption to regular redshirt and also eligibility rules arisen in autumn 2020. In an answer to the COVID-19 pandemic’s disruption come the 2020-21 sports seasons, the NCAA detailed a blanket preeminence to lull players’ transfer and participation decisions.

This enabled immediate eligibility for transfer students. Seniors were also given second year of eligibility no matter if they determined to pat or sit the end the present season.

NCAA Redshirt Rules

The NCAA has guidelines the favor players that were completing at the beginning of the season yet got hurt early on. For most sports, redshirt rules space uniform.

A medical redshirt needs the adhering to criteria (per AthleticsScholarships.net):

The student-athlete’s injury occurred during their senior year that high institution or their 4 seasons of university competition.The injury must be season-ending.The injury occurs prior to the second fifty percent of the season.The student-athlete contended in no more than 30% that the team’s games or three contests (whichever number is greater).

In sports other than football, a non-medical redshirt only applies to student-athletes that didn’t participate in a challenge all season. In basketball, because that example, your team will play 30+ games.

If friend play one minute of one game, girlfriend burn one season the eligibility and cannot claim a redshirt for the season.

Football has new guidelines that use to hurt athletes and those that aren’t getting much playing time. Based upon this dominion change, a department 1 football player may play up to four games in a season without making use of a season that eligibility.

It may be any type of four games, consisting of bowls. This is advantageous to coaches and also players – the coaches gain to keep an ext experienced players on your rosters while various other players get an ext opportunities come play.

Has a True Freshman ever before Won the Heisman?


A true freshman has actually never won the Heisman, but two redshirt freshmen have taken university football’s best trophy. Johnny Manziel (Quarterback, Texas A&M) did it first in 2012, followed by Jameis Winston (Quarterback, Florida State) in 2013.

While no true freshman has actually won the Heisman, there have been many of lock who had legendary performances:

In 1996, Ron Dayne (Running Back, Wisconsin) ran because that 2,109 yards (yds) and 21 touchdowns. Dayne ranked second nationally in both categories.In 1999, Michael Vick (Quarterback, Virginia Tech) finished 3rd in Heisman voting. Vick passed for 2,065 yds and rushed for 682 yds. Vick led Virginia technology to the national championship game, wherein they shed to Florida State.In 2004, Adrian Peterson (Running Back, Oklahoma) was a Heisman finalist, finishing second to USC’s Matt Leinart. Peterson ran because that 1,937 yds and also 15 touchdowns as a true freshman.

True freshmen have been key parts of nationwide Championship teams. Of the many examples since 2000:

In 2002, Maurice Clarett was Ohio State’s most abundant offensive weapon in their 2002 title run. The true student in the first year running back amassed 1,341 yds indigenous scrimmage and also 18 total touchdowns.In 2008, Jeff Demps to be the most explosive athlete on a Florida violation that contained Tim Tebow and also Percy Harvin. The true freshman running back averaged 7.8 yds per carry and also 9.4 yds every catch.In 2012, T.J. Yeldon (Running Back) and Amari Cooper (Wide Receiver) broke 1,000 rushing yds and also 1,000 receiving yds, respectively, for Alabama’s nationwide Championship squad.In 2018, Trevor Lawrence led Clemson to a perfect 15-0 record. The true freshman quarterback threw 30 touchdowns and just four interceptions. In the championship game, Lawrence racked up 347 happen yds, 153 that which visited Justyn Ross – another true freshman.

Can a True student in the first year Leave school to play Professionally?

In major North American sports leagues, the rule for at an early stage draft entry vary by sport.

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No matter exactly how ready to compete at high levels, true freshmen have entire college careers front of them. When some will certainly shine right away, those sitting out have plenty that time come develop.