According to a new rule the NCAA set in place on Wednesday for the upcoming football season, players can now participate in any four games in a single year and still use a redshirt for that season.
Still limited to four full seasons in a span of five years, this rule change differs from the rule initially set in place, that players who take one snap in one game have burned their collegiate redshirt for their career.
Now, programs like Ohio State have the opportunity to give freshmen in-game experience at any point in the season, allowing coaches to have more depth at the end of the season for postseason play.
“Coaches will appreciate the additional flexibility and ability to give younger players an opportunity to participate in limited competition,” Division I council chair Blake James said via press release.
Also, if players suffer an early season injury, that could count as their redshirt season, instead of having to spend one season of eligibility on the bench.
For Ohio State, this provides an instant opportunity for players in its 2018 recruiting class to get playing time during their first season at the college level.
With many opportunities for players in the 2018 class to make a significant contribution during their first season, such as four-star tight end Jeremy Ruckert, four-star defensive tackle Tommy Togiai and five-star athlete Tyreke Johnson — who has been practicing at cornerback since he arrived as an early enrollee — there is one position in particular that could thrive with this new rule being put in place.
With J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber slated for the majority of the carries, the Buckeyes have a drop-off in experienced depth at the running back position after Antonio Williams transferred to North Carolina on April 23. Now, two members of the 2018 class, four-star running back Master Teague and four-star running back Brian Snead will battle for playing time as the No. 3 back on the depth chart.
A native of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Teague, the No. 11 running back recruit in the country according to the 247Sports composite rankings, arrived at Ohio State as an early enrollee in January. Despite missing his senior season of high school due to an ankle injury, he has been described by both players and coaches alike as a strong and physical back during reps in spring practice.
Snead, the No. 3 running back in the 2018 class and the No. 80 player overall in the 247Sports composite rankings, recorded 48 touchdowns during his career at Armwood High School in Seffner, Florida.
Along with Snead and Teague, Jaelen Gill, a four-star recruit from Westerville, will join the Buckeyes for the 2018 season as a running back recruit in theory. However, many say that Gill will follow the path of players like Curtis Samuel and Demario McCall as a future h-back at Ohio State.
With this new rule put in place for the 2018 season, Urban Meyer and the rest of the coaching staff now have more depth on the roster to utilize throughout the season.