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Ohio State quarterback Tate Martell likely would have seen playing time last season had the new redshirt rule been in place.

How will new redshirt rule impact Ohio State football?

Ryan Ginn

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What does the new redshirt rule mean for Ohio State?

The NCAA recently approved a rule change that will allow players a one-time exemption in which they can play up to four games in a season and still count it as a redshirt year. The move will help prevent frustrating situations in which coaches choose to burn a player’s redshirt in emergency situations, costing them a year of eligibility after playing just one or two games. But it will also have the benefits of using the carrot of playing time to keep young players engaged as well as letting coaches see how a promising player looks in a game situation.

“This change promotes not only fairness for college athletes, but also their health and well-being,” said Miami athletic director Blake James, who is the Division I Council chair. “Redshirt football student-athletes are more likely to remain engaged with the team, and starters will be less likely to feel pressure to play through injuries. Coaches will appreciate the additional flexibility and ability to give younger players an opportunity to participate in limited competition.”

What will it mean for Ohio State? As is often the case, there is upside and downside to the new ruling. However, the good seems to far outweigh the bad.

Last year, the Buckeyes could have used backup quarterback Tate Martell in four games without compromising his eligibility. Doing so would have given them a chance to better see what he can do in a game and also would have helped give him something to strive for.

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer has also in the past lamented not being able to play freshmen who come on strong — like Sam Hubbard in 2014 or Torrance Gibson in 2015 — but this would allow him to do so.

One of the primary criticisms is that it could lead to less valuable players sticking around longer by making it easier to redshirt, but Ohio State already redshirts a ton of players — especially ones lower in the recruiting rankings. The difference is much more likely to be that those players add games to their career — by playing in a season when they otherwise wouldn’t — than that Ohio State takes a freshman who might normally play in eight games and only plays him in four.

Last year, the Buckeyes had just two redshirt-eligible players who saw the field but only for four or fewer games, and one of those players (Demario McCall) had his season end because of an injury. Almost all first-year players who do make it onto the field at Ohio State end up playing at least half the season if not more.

Ultimately, this will likely be used as a way to reward players who were already going to redshirt instead of becoming a tactic to suppress the amount of games a talented freshman might have otherwise played.

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