Allen eager to take advantage of new redshirt rule

Early this past February, Tom Allen put the finishing touches on his first full recruiting class as Indiana’s football coach.

It was a well-regarded haul of high school seniors, ranked No. 45 nationally by Rivals and No. 49 by 247 Sports. Thanks to the NCAA’s new stance toward redshirting, many of those players may see the field sooner than later.

Beginning this fall, Division I football players are permitted to play in up to four games while keeping redshirt status and an extra season of eligibility. It’s a widely-praised change of approach by the NCAA, one that could benefit a program such as Indiana that is striving to achieve stronger depth and more accelerated development across its roster.

“It’s a great rule,” Allen said. “Great for young men, great for our program to be able to allow us to maximize our rosters.”

Previously, a player lost a redshirt the moment he took the field. If a player became injured after appearing in three or fewer games early in the season, he could apply for a medical waiver in order to regain a year of eligibility.

Now, the NCAA’s revised policy is much more player — and program — friendly.

Players may appear in up to four games at any point in the season, potentially helping teams with depth concerns late in the fall, while also keeping young players engaged with the possibility of earning their way onto the field as situations merit.

“During fall camp, we have to target the guys we want to have in this pool,” Allen said. “We’re going to have a pool of guys and say these freshmen are going to be candidates for (making four appearances and keeping their redshirts). Some guys, they’re just gonna have to play and we’re not planning to redshirt them at all. There’s a few of those guys. But the ones that we would’ve maybe redshirted, now we’re going to have a chance to play them when they’re ready to play.”

With true freshman quarterback Michael Penix, Allen will be careful. Should Penix begin the season second or third on the IU depth chart, Allen will look to bank at least one game for late in the season in case of injuries to Brandon Dawkins and/or Peyton Ramsey.

“I think at a position like that, where those are season-defining situations that could occur, you don’t want to burn a guy’s opportunities and you get late in the year and you’ve got nothing left,” Allen said. “So, to me, that’s absolutely true for that spot. It’s maybe not the case for every position, but definitely quarterback.”

Allen’s hope is that he can lessen some of the wear and tear on his first-team players, while also affording others valuable on-field experience.

Last season, due to combinations of injury and a lack of depth, Allen saw too many Hoosiers playing upwards of 80 snaps per game. That was particularly the case on defense, he said.

Ideally, Allen would like to keep starters in a snap count range of 50-to-60 per game.

“You’re gonna see us play a lot more guys on defense,” Allen said. “You’re gonna see us play more guys on special teams. This new rule will help with that. To me, all of my evaluations in the offseason, that’s the one glaring thing that kept coming back up — depth and how that affected us negatively in the fourth quarter.”

Already, Allen says, young players are excited about the possibility of reaching the field earlier than they would have in previous years.

For Indiana, that’s an unmistakable positive.

“They’re fired up,” Allen said. “They realize that they’re gonna have an opportunity to play. I never want a kid to say, ‘Hey, I’m gonna redshirt,’ but they kind of see the writing on the wall as things unfold throughout fall camp. Now, they’re gonna stay engaged, which is huge for us. A guy may be on the scout team, but that doesn’t mean he’s definitely gonna redshirt the whole rest of the year. I think it elevates everything.”


  1. Reality, is that many or all other teams are also as it applies to their situation. Less for the wealthy teams of talent and more for the not as wealthy.

  2. t, I agree with you it should help the teams with less talent as it should help out with depth issues. Getting your best young players in games to gain experience is a good thing. It will be interesting to see how teams deal with this new rule.

  3. This is a great rule change for college football! Come on basketball, consider something like this.

  4. Agreed! And I think, just like the early signing period, it helps programs like IU more than it helps the top football power programs.

  5. Not sure if it will help programs like IU as it appears. Top programs will may use a couple of their own and already have talent to offset any perceived advantage from lesser programs. More equal programs and below will have similar scenerio as IU. So not sure if anything is gained or lost in terms of wins or losses.

  6. Actually, after thinking about it I think it helps the good to excellent to blue chip programs/teams the most. Recruiting (playing time for talented shirters at any position), and player development of already talented players. The fat cats just keep getting fatter.

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