AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. — To say Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney is excited about the new redshirt proposal is an understatement.
“I love that for a lot of reasons,” Swinney said on Tuesday after wrapping up a day’s worth of meetings with other coaches at the Atlantic Coast Conference Spring Meetings at the Ritz-Carlton from Amelia Island, Fla.
The new proposal will allow a player to play up to four games before burning a year of eligibility. Under the current rule, if a player takes one snap during his freshman year he can burn a year of eligibility, unless he or she is granted a medical hardship and has not played 25-percent of the season.
This rule would have been a big help for the Tigers during their first national championship run in 2015. If you recall, Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson was injured in its Orange Bowl victory over Oklahoma. That left the Tigers thin at defensive end as Austin Bryant stepped in and helped out.
Now imagine if Clelin Ferrell had been available to play as well, and in the national championship game that season.
“You might have a guy that is not really ready to play as a freshman,” Swinney said. “Clelin Ferrell was not quite ready (in 2015) then you get halfway through the year and you don’t really want to waste his redshirt year, but it would have been great to have played him at the end of the season.
“We were like, ‘Holy Cow! This guy can help us.’ But you are not going to burn a year for one or two games.”
Swinney said it is a rule that can also help when a player decides he does not want to play in a bowl game like LSU’s Leonard Fournette or Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey did this past year or when a guy gets banged up during the season and has to miss a couple of games.
In the case of a team like Clemson, who has played 15 games in each of the last two seasons, it can be really beneficial.
“Injuries are another reason. Guys get hurt … we just played two 15-game seasons,” Swinney said. “You get to the end of the year and you get some guys banged up and hurt and a guy that maybe was not ready, now he is prepared and can get you through a couple of games.
“It will be good for his development and I think it will keep the student athlete much more engaged.”