What does Redshirt mean in Football? June 19, 2023 – Posted in: Featured Articles – Tags:

If you follow football closely enough, you may be familiar with the term “redshirt.”  Redshirt can refer to a variety of things, depending on the context.

The game of football at all levels fits one of the definitions of a redshirt. This kind of redshirt means the same thing whether you’re discussing youth, high school, college, or professional football. Football has a different meaning of a redshirt that is specific to the collegiate level of the sport. Although football is the sport where it is used the most, under this definition of the phrase, it refers to college athletes in all sports, not just football.

Therefore, if you’re trying to figure out what redshirt in football means, you’ll see that there isn’t one clear description.

Let’s look at two of the phrase’s most typical uses in football and how they relate to the many scenarios we’ve just described.

What Does “Redshirt” Mean?

Redshirt has two possible meanings:

  1. Concerns a player who wears a red jersey during practice to indicate that he is the quarterback or that he is injured.
  2. Refers to a collegiate player who was given additional time to master the sport and prepare for the next level.

Despite the fact that the words are the same in both cases, their meanings are very different. As was previously established, the term “jersey redshirt” refers to players at all levels of competition, whereas “college football” and all other collegiate sports fall under the opposite meaning.

We’ll explain each of these uses of “redshirting” in detail so that you can distinguish between them and know how to apply it correctly in each situation.

Redshirt Jersey for Injuries

On the practice pitch, a bright red jersey stands out, which is why injured players wear them. In this situation, redshirts are applicable at all football levels. Sometimes wounded players will participate in drills as a part of their recovery. When the squad divides into roles, they might participate in individual drills, or they might just work alone with a trainer on the side of the field.

To indicate that he is injured and not permitted to participate in any contact drills, the player will either wear a red jersey or a redshirt in either scenario. In order to prevent confusion about which workouts the players are and are not permitted to participate in, coaches make injured players wear this shirt.

This is especially useful when the roster size is large and certain coaches might not be aware of a player’s contact restrictions or the drills he is permitted to perform. All coaches will be able to swiftly spot athletes who are limited by injuries thanks to this.

Additionally, this benefits the other players on the pitch.  They are aware that they are not permitted to make any kind of hard contact with anyone they observe wearing a red jersey.

For Quarterbacks:

Redshirts are always permitted for quarterbacks to use during practice. It makes it simple for everyone to recognize the quarterback and that he is not permitted to be hit rather than denoting an injury.

This is done to protect the player’s health in what is perhaps the most crucial position on the offense, if not the entire team. Coaches don’t want their quarterback to get hurt during practice because another player didn’t realize they weren’t supposed to hit them.

The quarterbacks are made to stand out on the practice pitch by donning red jerseys. When the team conducts full squad practices that do include some contact, this is extremely beneficial.

In college football, redshirt

The second term, as was already mentioned, is exclusive to college football. Although college football clubs do use that definition as well, in this case, a redshirt has nothing to do with a player or quarterback who is hurt during practice.

Instead, it refers to a tactical decision made by the coach to give a few players more time to become used to the more difficult level of the game. All players in college football are eligible to play for four seasons, from their freshman to their senior years.

Due to the significant change in competitiveness, as they move from high school to college, some freshmen are just not yet prepared to compete.

In other instances, the presence of upperclassmen in the freshman’s position on the roster may prevent him from receiving a lot of playing time. In these situations, coaches have the option of labeling some players as “Redshirts.”

That player will now have an extra year of eligibility. While being redshirted, the player won’t be able to participate in any games, but they can take part in practices and film sessions to understand the game.

A player who is NOT a freshman can also be given a redshirt by a college team. This typically occurs if a player sustains an injury early in the season. The coach designates the player a medical Redshirt rather than making him forfeit a complete year of eligibility while out with an injury.


In football, the term “redshirt” has two distinct meanings. One is a physical red jersey that athletes will don during practice to indicate they should not be contacted.

The second is a procedural decision made by college coaches to extend a player’s eligibility by one year. When discussing a Redshirt in football, be aware of the distinctions between the two uses of the phrase so you know what is meant.

Redshirt in Football FAQs

1) How many games is a redshirt allowed to play?

4 Games

An athlete can “suit up” in the team uniform and play up to four games during a redshirt year to save one year of eligibility. They can also fully participate in practices and team activities.

2) What does a quarterback’s red shirt indicate?

Redshirts are always permitted for quarterbacks to use during practice. It makes it simple for everyone to recognize the quarterback and that he is not permitted to be hit rather than denoting an injury. 

3) How long can you play before you have to sit out?

One method the NCAA and its coaches may assist athletes in adjusting to life in college is by allowing them to redshirt. Football players will now be able to participate in up to four games and still be eligible for a redshirt season, keeping their four-year eligibility, according to a new redshirt regulation put in place for coaches.

4) Are you able to redshirt in D3?

In Division III, is redshirting permitted? In Division III, redshirting is not allowed. A player’s year of eligibility is preserved via redshirting, which is the practice of having them attend and participate in practices but not play in any games.