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Football 1984September 13, 198417
Redshirting now the rule for most freshmen
By SCOTT FOWLER
The days of the freshman foot
ball player who comes straight out
of high school to star for a major
college team have gone the way
of the Model T Ford and electric
You might run across one every
now and then, but they are def
initely a rare breed, thanks chiefly
to the phenomenon called
Last year at UNC, 96 percent .
of the freshmen football players
did not play a single down and
were redshirted, meaning that
their four years of eligibility begin
this season. Of those 25 freshmen,
only tailback William Humes saw
playing time and is a sophomore
both athletically and academically
Redshirting is an accepted
practice at most major universities
nowadays. The rationale at UNC:
With football cutting into the
number of academic hours a
player can take, why not redshirt
him when it will take him four-and-a-half
or five years to grad
uate anyway? Otherwise, he might
not graduate at all.
Redshirting has contributed
directly to a higher percentage of
college players graduating today,
UNC coach Dick Crum said.
"From the academic stand
point, being redshirted is in the
player's best interest," Crum said.
"We want them to make the
"The first goal I have is for the
guys to get a degree. People may
laugh at that statement, but it's
true. If a player has a potential
to make an impact immediately we
will use him, however.
"Also, if the player is a potential
pro athlete, the NFL teams want
them to go to various tryout camps
during the spring of their senior
year. So they're not getting any
class time then, and end up having
to drop courses if they haven't
Joe Conwell and Brooks Bar
wick, both redshirts who as seniors
graduated in December, were able
to attend the tryout camps. Con
well eventually signed with the
On the other hand, non-redshirt
Donnell Thompson, who ended
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his eligibility in 1980, is just now
completing his degree. And some
of the players who use up their
eligibility in the first four years just
never come back.
Most of the players who have
been redshirted feel in hindsight
that the idea was a good one,
although they weren't too high on
it when it was first put to them.
"Coming in everybody wants to
play after being a superstar in high
school," redshirt sophomore Eric
Streater said. "You don't want to
do nothing but just practice. But
college ball is all based on timing,
which you've got to know, and it
takes about a year to understand
the system anyway. You've just got
to wait your turn." Streater will
start at split end this year.
Crum agreed that a freshman
is hard-pressed to beat out a starter
in the fall of his freshman year.
"If a freshman challenges for a
position at all, it's usually in the
spring when they know the system
better. They're competing with
guys who are 22 or 23 years old
and very familiar with our system,
so it's very tough to come right
in and contribute."
Quarterback Mark Maye was
one of the Tar Heels' more well
known redshirts last year.
"I think in the future 111 look
back and think it was the best thing
in the world for me to be red
shirted," Maye said. "I would've
only got a snap here or there, or
gone in some games when we were
winning real big, and I felt like
it would have been smart to wait
for a whole year instead of taking
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Pat Sheehan, a 6-3, 250-lb.
offensive tackle from New Jersey
who was redshirted along with
Streater in 1982, really had a new
system to learn, since he was
switched from defense to offense
in the spring of 1983.
"At first, I didn't understand
(being redshirted)," Sheehan said.
"I felt like I was never going to
play. People at home didn't under
stand at first either.
"To many people, being red
shirted has the connotations of
being put on a back burner,"
Sheehan said. "But I looked at it
positively, thinking that if they
weren't going to have a use for me
they wouldn't want me around for
another year. After that, I got
motivated, and there weren't too
This year, Sheehan's motivation
has paid off, as he will attempt
to fill Brian Blados' shoes at left
The players do have some
choice in becoming a redshirt,
Crum said. "We talk to them
individually. We don't force
anyone to stay here five years, just
like we don't bring in a recruit and
say hell definitely be redshirted."
Maye said he was told early on
that he would be redshirted. "I
wasn't real sure until the Miami
(Ohio) game and we won pretty
big and the next day or so after
practice, coach (Randy) Walker
"I didn't know until the end of
the season," Streater said. "But I
sort of figured I would be since
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I didn't get in the games any."
Sheehan was called to Crum's
office the week of the season
opener against Pittsburgh in 1982.
"Coach Crum called me to his
office, and explained it was to my
advantage to be redshirted. I
wouldn't have gotten any playing
time anyway that year."
From an academic standpoint,
the players tend to differ in their
evaluation of how much redshirt
ing has helped their grades and
whether they would need the extra
semester or two.
"I may start some graduate
work in the last year," said Shee
han, a double major in history and
English. "If I'm finished in four,
Maye, speaking about his
grades as a freshman, said: "There
wouldn't have been much
Streater, an industrial relations
major, said he would need four
and a half to five years.
One common criticism of red-
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shirting claims that coaches are
merely stockpiling plavers. "That's
completely untrue," Crum said.
"We can have only 95 players on
scholarships at any one time. If
we carry a player for another year,
that just means our 95 scholarships
are spread over five years rather