What is Grayshirting?

It pains me to say this, but it is true so I must. Long Snappers are usually the last to get recruited. Please take a moment to catch your breath and pick up all of the things you just threw in rage.
Since we are often so late to the dinner table of scholarship winners (of course, there are your exceptions that dominate early) coaches will often do whatever they can to get us a seat. This is where grayshirting comes in. According to NCAA.org, grayshirting is:
“Grayshirting” is a term used in the recruiting process to describe situations in which a student-athlete delays initial enrollment in a collegiate institution to the winter or spring term after the traditional academic year begins. Students who “grayshirt” often use the fall to take classes part time or choose not to enroll in college at all. “Grayshirting” is not a formal designation by the NCAA or the National Letter of Intent program. If you are interested in “grayshirting” and signing a National Letter of Intent, it is important to review the applicable NLI provisions and to be aware of the informal nature of this commitment.

Let me bottom line it for you, a school will want you to grayshirt if they have filled up all of their spots for their current recruiting class. That way they can bump you to the next class of recruits.

Still hazy? Let me use an example. Say your uber athlethic son is a Long Snapper (given) and he is in the class of 2012. He is outstanding and being heavily recruited because he has been coached well. All of a sudden a certain school makes a big move on him (trips, handwritten letters, phone calls from special teams coach and/or head coach). They want your son and they want to sign him on the dotted line (actually cant do that until Feb of his senior year, but work with me). The problem is they have already offered eleventeen position players (qbs, receivers, running backs, etc) and they are out of scholarships. What to do, what to do? Simple: grayshirt.

They will now ask if this is something you are interested in. Your son would now, essentially, be their first recruit for the class of 2013. He would graduate like normal for his senior year (May/June) but wouldn’t report to his college until January (most report right after graduation if on scholarship to get some extra classes in and to do the “volunteer” workouts over the summer).

I have had a couple of my kids (kids = my Long Snappers) do this and it does work…..with the right person. One of the more notable ones is Christian Yount of UCLA/Pro. He decided to grayshirt, instead of take the normal route, because UCLA really, really wanted him (well done) and he wanted to go there (as he should). It worked for both parties.

There are some definite advantages and disadvantages. Here they are, in my opinion:


  • Time off. Your son may think it is the best thing in the world that he will technically have off from graduation until he reports. That could be a nightmare for him and you. Imagine a six month long summer where he has no responsibility. Exactly.
  • Emotions. Many kids that do this have a tough time being the top dog (recruitment, newspapers, etc) to someone who is forgot about for six months. No football for some for that long of a time can be very difficult.
  • Staying in the groove of school. How many times have you heard someone say I am just going to take a semester off to get refreshed and then I am coming back full speed? I think we know the ending of that story nine times out of ten. School and football are usually a good thing for a kid since it gives them a routine. Get them off that routine and oh man.
  • Identity. Sometimes it takes some time for a Long Snapper to adapt to which class he essentially is in when he does report. Is he with his original class of 2012’s (all his age and grad year) or is he with the class he will be signed with (2013, younger but will do all the meetings with)?
  • Time off. It can be a good thing to let your body heal and really get ready for when you report. The coaches will expect you to be perfect (as they do with any Long Snapper of mine they are bringing in mind you….focus up). High School football can take a major toll on the body. Some coaches are just insane with their lengths of practices and that can be taxing on the old chassis.
  • Socially. You will have to adapt to being able not be a full on football player right off the bat. After speaking with Christian, he said this was huge for him as it forced him to socialize with non-football players while the team was traveling (hint, hint: girls)
  • School. If you do this and have some money available, the best thing is to actually enroll in classes (can’t be a full load) at the school you will be attending. This way you can get a major jump on the rest of the kids in your class (2013 at this point) and you should EASILY be able to graduate on time, and if worked correctly, should be able to get your Masters on their dime. Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
  • School again. Say the money is not obtainable, you can still take JC classes local to you as long as it is not a full load. More units for you to walk into college with. Win.
  • School again again. Getting there a bit early and not having to deal with football right off the bat, can really make a difference in getting comfortable with the workload. Anyone that has played a sport and gone to school at the same time can tell you it can be quite daunting. Doing a grayshirt gives you training wheels for the first quarter or two since you don’t have football to get in your way.
  • Maturity. You will have to get into the mature groove very quickly with the schooling system. You won’t have the football program to help you here. You will have to set up your classes and you usually won’t have tutors at your side until you are officially with the team (January)
  • Injury. Say you do get injured, you still have your redshirt year in your back pocket. Side note, if you grayshirt and redshirt, you better get your Masters or I won’t talk to you ever again…especially since they are paying for it!
  • Coaches. They will love you even more if you actually do end up doing this and going in early (basically with the rest of the 2012 class) but just don’t do any activities with them as a team. You would have to be very self-motivated and responsible (welcome to being an adult, suck it up!). You would be able to work out and be on the field with the guys…..just not at the exact official times as the team. For instance, the team works out from 4-6 pm and you would have to work out from 2-4. Coaches love this dedication and trust me they notice.

Bottom line, grayshirting is something that can work IF done by the right person. It can definitely be brought up to a coach as another way for you to become a player on their team and become another dominant Rubio Long Snapper in college.


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