Going from Red to Green: An Inside Look at Redshirting

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When talking about college football, there is a term that is almost always guaranteed to come up: redshirting. It's hard to find a college football player who wasn't a redshirt at one point in time. But is redshirting really necessary? Players who have gone through the process and coaches who makes that decision seem to think so.

“If a young man, depending on the depth of a position, is not mentally and physically ready to go as a true freshman, then we will give him an opportunity to redshirt so he can get a year in the weight room, get a year in the film room and then be able to step up and have an extra year.”

This is the simplest way tight end coach and recruiting coordinator Brian Haines could explain the complicated process of redshirting. Haines went on to explain the even more complicated process of who gets chosen to spend a year on the bench, observing and learning.

“We don’t determine that until we get going in camp, and then from there we will sit down as a full staff, an offensive, defensive, special teams staff, and we evaluate every kid every day. At that point we try to figure out who’s ready, not only mentally, but physically to take on the challenge."

Most often, the choice is to sit freshmen for a year because of their lack of experience in the prestigious world of Division-I football. However, sometimes a freshman player will realize on his own that he is not cut out to play that year.

This was the case with redshirt sophomore Thad Ingol.

“I had the chance to play as a true freshman and I didn’t feel like I was physically ready or mentally ready and I made the decision to redshirt,” said Ingol.“It’s all for the team, so as long as we get the W, at the end of the day you kind of have to suck up self pride.”

Ingol’s outlook shows the maturity that a young student-athlete can gain from being redshirted. Looking back, he knows he made the right decision.

“I just felt like the time spent on the sidelines seeing how things go on game day and being able to get in the weight room and get a full workout in, was just a big help to me getting a jump start to my career.”

Redshirting can also help a player’s college career by preparing them for the physically and mentally tasking role as a Division-I football player. Redshirt junior Keith Moore certainly found his year on the bench helpful.

“In football it’s always a great idea,” said Moore. “It’s not like golf or baseball where you don’t have to gain your size or strength. So it definitely benefits in football, especially with the knowledge of the game too…I get in the film room and understand the positions I’m playing.”

Redshirt Junior Beau Blankenship found his redshirt year most beneficial when it came to training and becoming physically ready to play.

“That year you get of developing your body, eating right and training, it’s real good and you get to be (with the team) and practice still,” said Blankenship.

The 5’9”, 202-pound running back had to redshirt his sophomore year according to NCAA rules after transferring to Ohio from Iowa State.

Redshirting allows players a year to get to know the rhythms of the team so the player can become a working part of the machine. However, while redshirting has many benefits, it can also be a struggle for the players.

During their redshirt year, players practice with the team, go to the film room with the team and, in general, spend every important moment with the team except for one: the moment on the field. A redshirt player does not get to suit up for a game; instead he must stand on the sidelines and watch the players he practices with play on the field.

“That was hard but you have to take it as, that year is just a year to get better and to not really worry about it. But it is hard to be playing in high school then coming in and not playing.” said Blankenship.

A big part of being a team is learning to support your teammates; according to Moore this is something you can do on game day even if you’re just a redshirt standing on the sidelines.

“Your redshirt year is different. You don’t travel on Fridays; you go in and lift while they’re leaving for the games. So you do feel different, especially on game day. You’re not putting your pads on; you’re there for moral support,” said Moore.

“But in the end you’re still helping them Monday through Thursday.”