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Definition: A redshirt is a player who sits out an entire season of his or her sport in order to preserve a year's worth of eligibility. The term can be used as a noun (He's a redshirt), a verb (He's going to redshirt this season) or an adjective (The redshirt freshman is going to start at quarterback).

"Redshirt freshman" refers to a player in his second year of college -- an academic sophomore -- in his or her first year of athletic competition.

There are a number of reasons why a player might take a redshirt year:

  • He might feel he needs an extra year to develop physically before competing at the Division I level
  • He might want the extra time to get acclimated to the college, the team, or the system
  • He might not have an opportunity to play right away due to depth at his position, and might take a redshirt season rather than spend a year on the bench.
Redshirt players can practice with their teams, but cannot compete in games.

Students can take redshirt years in any sport, but it is most common in football. The term is derived from the red practice jerseys traditionally worn by players not on the active roster.

See Also:

Players who miss a year due to injury may apply for medical redshirt status.
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