It’s a rule Miami Hurricanes freshman defensive tackle Nesta Silvera knew about already.
But in no way does he want it applying to him.
“Ain’t no redshirting me,” Silvera said at UM’s media day Monday.
The new rule, approved by the NCAA in June, allows for a college football player to appear in as many as four games at any point in the season and still remain eligible for a redshirt, which saves them one of their four years of eligibility.
The rule also likely won’t apply to tight ends Brevin Jordan and Will Mallory, who will have extended roles early in their career as they take over for junior Michael Irvin II, out for four months following surgery for an injured MCL.
But for some of their other teammates who might have been on the bubble and helped form UM’s eighth-ranked recruiting class according to the 247Sports Composite, redshirt has a new meaning. The rule also affords them extra flexibility to play in pivotal moments during their first year on campus — while still having the chance to retain that extra year of eligibility.
“It’s a win for our student-athletes in the sport of football and something that was definitely needed,” said UM athletic director Blake James, who served as the chair of the Division I council that approved the rule.
It very well could be a win for the Hurricanes, too, as they get their freshman class ready for the 2018 season that starts with a marquee opener against LSU on Sept. 2 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
The goal is to get them involved early. The hope is they contribute as the Hurricanes eye a run at the College Football Playoffs.
“Guys are just beginning to prove that they’re game-ready,” Hurricanes coach Mark Richt said.
Richt now has the opportunity see just how ready their prized newcomers are for the college game, especially at positions where there might not be enough quality reps to go around in practice.
Like at running back, where top newcomers in Lorenzo Lingard and Cam’Ron Davis are battling for playing time behind established names Travis Homer and DeeJay Dallas.
Like at wide receiver, where UM has four highly touted freshmen in Mark Pope, Brian Hightower, Dee Wiggins and Marquez Ezzard but also has Ahmmon Richards as the clear No. 1 option and speedsters Jeff Thomas and Michael Harley looking to make strides as sophomores.
Like in the secondary, where Al Blades Jr., Gurvan Hall, D.J. Ivey and Gilbert Frierson are providing depth for the likes of Jaquan Johnson, Michael Jackson, Trajan Brady and Sheldrick Redwine.
“It’s a blessing really because you have so many weapons in one class, especially as freshmen,” Hightower said. “Us coming in here and doing what we’re doing doesn’t happen often. We’re making it happen.”
Added Frierson: “That’ll help along the way, especially if coaches don’t think we’re ready after playing a few games.”
There’s also the role injuries played in decisions. Prior to the rule change, an injury late in the season could force coaches to put a younger player in games just to make sure they had enough bodies to take the field on a given Saturday. A year of eligibility could be wasted over a handful of snaps late in the year.
“That’s harsh,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said, “but now you don’t have to worry about that. Now, you really have the balance of ‘Hey, there’s no need to get this guy in for two plays. Save him.’ But then all of a sudden by October 20, you may need to use him.”
That could be the future for some of the Hurricanes’ freshmen this year. For now, though, UM’s first-year players aren’t thinking about the “what if” that could come with a redshirt.
“We have to play with a lot of urgency,” first-year defensive back Gurvan Hall said. “Coaches tell us to strain to the ball.’‘
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