Football Recruiting: What is a Blueshirt?

Jan 23, 2015, 11:00 PM PST
Jan 2, 2017; Pasadena, CA, USA; USC Trojans coach Clay Helton reacts during the 103rd Rose Bowl against the Penn State Nittany Lions at Rose Bowl. USC defeated Penn State 52-49 in the highest scoring game in Rose Bowl history. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

If you’ve followed USC football recruiting this year, you’ve probably noticed that the Trojans can only take 24 scholarship players, as opposed to the standard class of 25 initial scholarships. That is due to the phenomenon known as the blueshirt.

The Trojans made placekicker Matt Boermeester a blueshirt in 2014, which has limited the 2015 recruiting class to 24.

So what is a blueshirt?

Blueshirting is an NCAA rule exception for oversigning that began at New Mexico State, which allows athletes to practically serve as early enrolling grayshirts, as long as the recruiting class is full.

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They are eligible to both enroll and play during the initial fall semester following their high school graduation or junior college transfer, but are not counted as an incoming scholarship player until the following year’s recruiting class.

In order to count towards the next allotment of scholarships, blueshirts begin as walk-ons and are not brought on scholarship until after the first day of fall camp.

It’s a contrast from grayshirts, who are not permitted to enroll or play immediately out of high school.

The biggest distinction for blueshirts however, is that the rule interpretation mandates that the players in question are not recruited.

That is defined by the NCAA as not having any of the following: an official visit to the school or a letter of intent issued for the student athlete to submit.

If neither of those have occurred, the player is eligible to be a blueshirt beginning the day after fall camp starts. At that point, he may be awarded a scholarship and counted forwarded to the next year’s recruiting class.

Here’s a simple checklist/breakdown of the four scholarship entries, for a recruiting graduating high school in 2015:

The Trojans have used blueshirting or “advanced scholarships” in every recruiting class since 2014, and they’re counted forward just like incoming transfers. Notable players signing as blueshirts include Matt Boermeester, Deontay Burnett and Clayton Johnston.