Athletes speak on life as a redshirt

Most freshman student-athletes coming into college were stars at their high schools. Many of them, in whatever sport it may be, were always out on the court or on the field competing and never saw the bench.

In college, teams are allowed to “redshirt” players. This means that those athletes that are redshirted are allowed to be on the team, practice, and participate in all of the normal activities that a player would do except that he or she cannot play in games.

At the collegiate level, student-athletes are allowed only four years of eligibility. Redshirting a student-athlete gives that player a year of practice experience without losing a year of eligibility, but an athlete can only be redshirted one time.

“I was happy, honestly. Why waste a year of eligibility knowing you won’t get to play that much,” said freshman wide receiver Liles Hillhouse.

Hillhouse helped the Florence Falcons reach the third round of the playoffs his senior year. He caught 32 passes for 452 yards and one touchdown in 2013.

Redshirting can take place in any sport but it is most frequently used in football where a majority of squads use as many redshirts as necessary to ensure future team success.

While being redshirted can be disappointing for some players that will not get to see action their first year, there are pros to it as well.

“Honestly, at first I didn’t like it all that much since I’ve never had to do that while playing sports,” said freshman linebacker Christian Davis. “But not long after that you get used to it and realize you should use it as a chance to learn all you can and take advantage of it.”

As a senior at Pelham High School Davis racked up 116 tackles and one interception.

There are a number of reasons why coaches choose to redshirt players. Some student-athletes are not ready to balance the demands of school work and athletics their first year out of high school. Others are redshirted so that he or she can get bigger or stronger or learn certain team philosophies.

“The best thing (about being redshirted) in my opinion is the chance to learn the ropes of everything and not having to balance the pressure of playing on Saturdays with school,” said Davis. “Redshirting helps you get a chance to step back and learn the system along with getting use to the new level of speed and agility you are playing at.”

Maturing as a player and getting better as a player is important, but Hillhouse said developing a sense of belonging with their team was equally as important.

“The best thing was meeting everyone on the team,” he said. “The group of guys I met this past season are probably the greatest group of guys I’ve ever met.”

Davis said although not getting to play is tough he realizes his time to play will come.

“Along the way you’re learning from the older guys different things about the game,” he said.

Medical redshirts are also available for players who have played in fewer than 30 percent of the teams competitions and none after midpoint of season.

Former Houston Cougars quarterback Case Keenum was granted a sixth-year of eligibility after tearing his ACL in 2010.