Saban Discusses Redshirt Policy

Reporting on redshirts can be a slippery slope. There is a misconception that football teams go through fall camp, and then decide to redshirt those freshmen not ready to play. It doesn't necessarily work that way. And it's not just freshmen players who get redshirted.

B.J. Scott played for Alabama last year as a true freshman. He was a wide receiver in 2008. Prior to the Sugar Bowl, the decision was made to move Scott to cornerback. He worked there through spring practice and in fall camp. He has told friends he will be redshirted this year.

Just because Scott said he would be redshirted doesn't mean it's true. Events could happen that would put Scott on the field this year. A team doesn't have to announce a redshirt. If a man doesn't play during a season, and he has not already redshirted, he gets the year back. If he is injured at some point during the season even after playing in a few games, he may be granted a redshirt.

The redshirt refers to the year a player does not complete, or competes very little due to injury early in the season. A player is given five years in which to have four years of competition. (In some rare cases, a player can be granted even a sixth year in which to play his four.) During his redshirt year he can practice, dress out for games, travel to road games, etc. Everything but play in a game.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban said, "We don't really decide early on that we're going to redshirt guys. We coach our guys as much as we can and try to continue to develop them and I think there are a lot of factors that come into whether you redshirt a guy or not. We want to continue to develop players so that if we lose somebody, maybe somebody we thought we may be able to redshirt all of a sudden that guy becomes the next guy that can provide a winning performance at his position so he gets elevated to play."

Thus far this season seven true freshmen have seen game action. They are tailback Trent Richardson, defensive back Rod Woodson, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, linebacker Nico Johnson, defensive lineman Kerry Murphy, offensive lineman Chance Warmack, and wide receiver Mike Bowman.

Murphy and Warmack participated in spring practice. Another newcomer who has played is starting left tackle James Carpenter, a junior college transfer who also went through spring practice.

It doesn't mean that every other signee who has not played in the first three games is going to be redshirted. But as Saban said Monday, "We've given ourselves the opportunity to redshirt some players because we haven't played them to this point."

Saban said, "With a freshman, sometimes it comes down to maturity. It doesn't mean a guy is not going to be a really, really, really good player at some point and time in the future. It just means that maybe he's not quite ready to do that right now for whatever reason.

"I think guys that clearly beat someone out and show they're a better player, you put them in there and you play them. And we've done that with several guys this year. And there are some other guys that may still get an opportunity to play so we haven't made any final decisions on anyone."

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