Before we dive into examining which players appear to be redshirting and which players are not, it's worth a reminder of how the rule works:
All players are granted 5 years within which to play 4. There's no formal paperwork associated with this - if a player doesn't appear in a game during a season and he hasn't yet redshirted, then he automatically is considered to have redshirted that season.
There are also medical hardships, commonly referred to as medical redshirts. If a player is injured such that he can't participate the remainder of the season*, is injured in the first half of the season (conference championship games count, bowl games do not) and has participated in no more than 30% of his team's games, then he can apply for a medical redshirt.
* This is an important note - the injury that knocks a player out for the remainder of the season has to be serious enough that the decision can be justified before the redshirt is granted - this is to prevent abuse of this rule, i.e. a coach changing their mind about whether to redshirt a player after he's already seen action
There are also rules that allow for an additional 6th year of eligibility to be granted, but this requires that a player has been incapacitated for reasons beyond their control for two (or more) seasons. Deontae Cooper would be an example of a player that would very likely be granted a 6th year if he chooses to apply.
With all that said, here are the scholarship players that have not yet appeared in a game:
- Fr. TE David Ajamu
- Fr. LB Keishawn Bierria
- Fr. RB Lavon Coleman
- Fr. LB Sean Constantine
- Fr. OL Dane Crane
- Fr. DB Patrick Enewally
- Fr. DB Jermaine Kelly
- Fr. OL Andrew Kirkland
- Jr. OL Erik Kohler
- Fr. LB Connor O'Brien
- Fr. DL Elijah Qualls
- Fr. OL Coleman Shelton
- Sr. DB Taz Stevenson
- So. WR Kendyl Taylor
- Fr. LB Azeem Victor
- Fr. QB Troy Williams
All of the above (with the exception of Kohler) appear to be headed for a redshirt year, barring a significant change of plans (i.e. unanticipated injury attrition at a particular position). So of the 21 true frosh on the roster, 8 have burned their redshirts so far. This is a higher percentage than old-school fans like me are used to seeing, but I would guess that this is the new normal in college football. It also appears Sark is looking to preserve an extra year for vets Stevenson and Taylor. In the case of Stevenson, this provides some insurance at Safety next year with Sean Parker, Will Shamburger and Tre Watson all exhausting their eligibility after this season. In the case of Taylor, it's harder to project his future, though he looked good last year as an emergency fill-in at RB. Both WR and RB are currently well-stocked, so he hasn't been needed, and this gives him an extra year to build himself up and battle for playing time next year.
Let's take a look at the true frosh that have played:
- WR Darrell Daniels: Most of his action has been on special teams where he's already laid a couple of big hits on kickoff coverage (fanning the flames of those that wouldn't mind seeing him move over to LB). He's only seen a few snaps in garbage time at WR, but with his big frame and speed you can imagine how he'll fit in to Sark's schemes.
- DE Marcus Farria: He didn't see action the first two games, but he now appears to be in the rotation at DE; he brings a size dimension otherwise lacking at the DE/Rush spot, and the coaches like how he's progressing.
- S Kevin King: Many figured he was destined for a redshirt year to bulk up, but he's impressed the coaches enough to work his way into the 2-deeps and has seen action in all four games. He's the kind of taller, rangy defender that DC Justin Wilcox is targeting, and he's gaining valuable experience that will give him a good chance to earn a starting spot next year.
- DE Joe Mathis: Mathis has worked his way up the depth and is getting meaningful snaps. While he hasn't yet stood out on the field, he's got the physical ability to become a star.
- WR John Ross: Probably the most heralded so far of the freshman class, Ross has rare speed and quickness. He's still learning the ropes and earning the trust of the coaches, but his ability is undeniable - this team will benefit if he continues to grow and becomes a bigger part of the offense.
- WR Damore'ea Stringfellow: The big wideout saw some snaps at WR in the first three games, but is still working to earn the trust of Price as a target and has mostly seen reps in garbage time. Like Daniels, you can just imagine his potential with his terrific size.
- K Cameron Van Winkle: Kickoffs have been a sore spot for this team for a while now, and Van Winkle is starting to show he may be the answer. He's still lacking consistency, but you can see the leg strength that's there, and his time as the kickoff specialist this year will hopefully give him a boost next year as he looks to succeed Travis Coons as the kicker for FG and PAT attempts.
- S Trevor Walker: Walker clearly benefited from enrolling early for Spring practices and is battling fellow frosh King and RS-Fr. Brandon Beaver for reps in the 2-deeps at safety.
What's your take Dawg fans - are there any frosh you've been impressed with? Are there any guys you would have preferred to see redshirt?