BOCA RATON – FAU’s incoming freshman class is significantly closer to playing in the upcoming football season now that the NCAA has changed its redshirt rule to allow players to play in up to four games in a season without burning a full year of eligibility.
At least that’s the way Owls coach Lane Kiffin sees it.
“I think you’ll see a lot of freshmen play at the end [of the season] once you have some injuries,” Kiffin said.
Football players have five years to use their four seasons of eligibility. A player can take an automatic redshirt by not playing in one season. Most of the time teams elect to redshirt players during their true freshman season, giving the newcomers time to learn the college game while developing their bodies.
In previous years a player who played in three games or fewer and suffered a season-ending injury could apply for a medical redshirt. Minus an injury, a player would burn the ability to claim a redshirt year with his first appearance in a game.
The new rule essentially grants players 4 1/3 seasons of eligibility.
“I think that’s probably beneficial because you’ve got more players now that you can play,” Kiffin said.
Six members of FAU’s 2017 signing class played as true freshmen last season.
The new NCAA rule does not limit a player to which four games he plays during a season. With this new rule in place, freshmen can now attend fall camp, learn the Owls’ system for the first two thirds of a season, then play in the final four games of the season without losing a year of eligibility.
Should FAU be positioned for a Conference USA championship game berth and a bowl game, Kiffin could elect to play a freshman only in the final two games of the regular season, the championship game and the bowl game and that player would still have four full years of eligibility remaining.
Kiffin is favor of the change, but concedes the rule change could force some interesting personnel decisions regarding players who haven’t yet used their redshirt who suffer injuries early in the season.
“You’re going to have some older guys who get injured week three, week four and maybe they’re out for eight weeks or something, you’ve got to figure out, OK, is it worth them playing a couple games and they are seniors or you can have them back for a year,” Kiffin said. “That part will be a little bit tricky, I think.”
The rule is not retroactive, so current players who played in four or fewer games in a prior season do not receive an extra year of eligibility.
“I think you’ll see a lot of people sustain injuries and then just not play even if they get back at the end of the year, so that they can save a year,” Kiffin said.
FAU announced the signing of a 16-player 2018 recruiting class on National Signing Day in February. One day later Lakeland offensive lineman Dacoda Weaver came on board.
Of those 17 players, 15 have been added to FAU’s official online roster – an indication that they are enrolled in classes and participating in summer workouts. FAU is still waiting for Kissimmee-Osceola’s Malcom Davidson to complete his academic work, but the Owls are still expecting the running back on campus prior to the start of fall camp.
Garden City Community College defensive back Meiko Dotson, one of the 16 signees announced on Signing Day, has also yet to be added to the Owls’ official roster.
The Owls are also still waiting on Longwood-Lyman defensive end Deon Woods and Hutchinson Community College transfer B. J. Emmons, who began his collegiate career at Alabaman, to complete their academic requirements before enrolling.