Home Blog Green Shirt, Red Shirt, Blue Shirt, and Gray Shirt

Green Shirt, Red Shirt, Blue Shirt, and Gray Shirt


My good friend of mine was (telling me before early signing period) about one of the moves that one of the  D1 football programs was trying to pull on a recruit. The recruit had committed to this D1 school back in the fall. Everything was good.

Just before signing day back in December, the head coach asked this recruit to not announce that he had committed to this former MAC school. They were not going to mention him as a member of the Class of 2018. He could say that he was going to this school, but not as a member of the Class of 2018 recruits. But once he enrolled and attended the first day of class, he would be scholarshipped(my vocab). He would count against next year’s Class of 2019.

My friend mentioned that he would be a “blue shirt.” I “kind of ” knew what a blue shirt was, kind of. I knew that he would not be considered a member of the 2018 Class. Also guessed that this head coach was “kind of” covering his donkey for not managing the scholarships very well.

Me being the self appointed recruiting guy, like so many out there,  wanted to be sure of a “blue shirt.” So I did some extensive research. humor here.

“Blue Shirt.” This occurs when a football program is able to get some football recruits to commit late, or some recruits want to commit late in the process. Simply, this is a way to work a way around over recruiting and to manage the number of football scholarships awarded.

As I said earlier the recruit would have been awarded a scholarship at the start of his freshman year. He can practice with the team, but he will not be allowed to play in a game for a year. Actually, very similar to a “red shirt.”

To me, almost not fair to the recruit. Plus, this does not happen often because of the recruiting restrictions that go with “blue shirting.” There can be no official(paid) visit. The coach cannot have made a home visit. There was no Letter of Intent. Obviously, no form of athletic aid is available. My answer – Get on your pony and ride.

“Red shirt.” Really common practice, and, recently, the NCAA has been working to make some changes to the red shirt practice. For the good – probably.

A red shirt football player is scholarshipped, but cannot play for a year. No playing time, but gets all of the benefits that regular team members get. To me the biggest pluses are training table and academic help. A red shirt also gets that 5th year and sometimes, even a 6th.

So often, a player gets red shirted: To get bigger/stronger. To get more individual coaching and conditioning. To rehab an injury. With an injury, a player can be red shirted any year.

And just as the words imply. A freshman who may not have met all of the academic requirements for eligibility could possibly be an “academic redshirt.” Always heard this was to prevent seniors in high school from stacking so ,many core classes during their senior year. Of course, that does not matter now with more new rules. Academic redshirts still practice, but no games for a year. They need to focus on that first year in the classroom.

A positive for red shirts – Get paid (scholarship) to adjust to college life. A negative for red shirts – no games, street clothes on game day, and no team travel.

“Gray shirt.”A few years ago, a recruit from the Mansfield area was all set to go to Western Michigan. Maybe a stretch for him, but he got the “offer” and committed. He called me a few months later and said that WMU wanted him to “gray shirt.” More homework for me.

I knew that a gray shirt meant that he would have to wait until the second semester to get and use his scholarship. Also knew that he would pay his own way for the first semester. Did not realize that he would be a part time student. But he waited and began on scholarship his 2nd semester. ( Later transferred- a stretch).

I learned, but assumed that a player had 5 years to play 4 years. The football staff again over committed and abused the player’s early commitment, after he told other recruiters -“No.” Also learned, that a “gray shirt,” is not really a part of the team the first semester.

Gray shirting seems to be coming more popular. Do not know, if I really like it. A “gray shirt,” seems to be missing a big chance to be part of the football team. He cannot practice or even workout with the team. That seems to be a long time without a team.

“Green shirt.” I had no clue what a green shirt was, but, I always called the process – graduating early or leaving high school early. Wow! Green shirt. A recruit sets his schedule to graduate in January. Then he enrolls in college for the second semester. I have known what a “green shirt” is, but never heard the term.

The obvious benefits are to start taking classes early, to go to spring practice with your team, to get more detailed conditioning, and to get to know your new teammates, especially other early green shirts. All of this on scholarship.

The negative, I have always believed that a recruit misses out of being part of his senior yea, and is now is in a business, no more high school fun life.

One more positive – some football playing seniors need to get out of their local environment for their own good. The neighborhood might not be the best for a prospect. One more negative – A recruit may be a member of a sport that needs him to win. Be it basketball, track, or wrestling. A chance for that last high school championship.

Blue shirt. Red shirt. Gray shirt. Green shirt. My hope is that every recruit is fortunate to be a “white shirt.” No such thing in college football, but if a recruit can bust his butt; if a recruit can stay out of trouble; if a recruit can maintain good grades and test score; if a recruit can pass the eyeball test for his college position; if a recruit is blessed with athletic talent, HE WILL BE A WHITE SHIRT for McCallister.

On a serious note – Every parent, high school coach, and prospect should become familiar with all of the different shirt colors. In 2018, with all of the different rules, knowing where you stand is huge. I would  not  procrastinate too long.

Remember one of McCallister’s overused phrases – “Recruiting is a business – a sometimes ugly business.”




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