New NCAA rules and decisions regarding player eligibility could positively influence BYU Football this fall.
The NCAA announced a new rule during the offseason, allowing student athletes competing in Division I football to play in up to four games in a season without jeopardizing their redshirt eligibility. This new rule will offer opportunities for coaches to evaluate players in game situations without burning an entire year of eligibility.
NCAA Chair of the Division I Council Blake James said the rule change benefits both athletes and coaches.
“This change promotes not only fairness for college athletes but also their health and well-being. 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,” James said in a press release. “Coaches will appreciate the additional flexibility and ability to give younger players an opportunity to participate in the limited competition.”
Another new NCAA rule introduced during the offseason allows more players to participate in fall practices. Previously, 105 players were allowed to attend fall camp.
This season, five more players are allowed to get out on the field and show what they can do. This is very beneficial for younger players or walk-ons that may not have previously had the chance to attend fall camp.
“It’s a huge help. I think just having more bodies, more guys competing, really helps us. We’ll take as many as they’ll give us. The five help out a lot. I wish it was fifteen more,” Coach Kalani Sitake said.
Along with all the new NCAA rules, the NCAA has also been more lenient with injury redshirts over the past year. If a player is injured early on in a season, the NCAA can grant an extra year of eligibility to the player. Taysom Hill was a beneficiary of this rule a couple of years ago.
Matt Hadley, a senior last year, was playing linebacker for the Cougars before sustaining a season-ending broken kneecap injury during the early part of the season. Hadley was granted a medical redshirt by the NCAA following the injury. This fall, coaches are seeing what Hadley can do as a running back.
Having a fifth-year senior on the field and drawing on his wealth of football experience could be advantageous for the Cougars this fall. In prior seasons, Hadley played safety, linebacker and running back for the Cougars.
“Every once in a while, I have to do a mental check to make sure I’m in the right spot,” Hadley said. “As of right now, I’m playing running back. It’s a privilege for me to be able to come back and work hard and make the most of this season.”
Hadley is one of the many to benefit from changes in the NCAA. Between the new fall camp numbers, redshirt rules and leniency on medical redshirts, BYU fall camp could have a very different look this year.
Fall football camp is underway with the season scheduled to start on September 1. BYU will travel to Tucson, Arizona, where they will play the University of Arizona at 8:45 p.m. MST. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.