Roster management has become an enormous concern for college football programs following the granting of one extra year of eligibility for all athletes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the creation of the Transfer Portal, and the implementation of the one-time transfer rule, which granted the ability for all student-athletes to play immediately after their first transfer, rather than the traditional process of having to sit out a year. The influx of transfers made balancing scholarship numbers between portal prospects and high school prospects more difficult, with some prep athletes being squeezed out.
On October 6, the NCAA provided temporary relief to these concerns. Division I Council approved a one-year waiver of the annual signing limit and initial scholarship limits in football. This was done to allow schools to replace up to seven scholarship student-athletes who leave school after the first term. The first term is defined as whichever date comes earlier between the last day of the school’s fall term or Dec. 15, 2021, which is the first day of the early National Letter of Intent signing period.
Traditionally, signing classes are capped at 25 players for each cycle. Coaches have flexibility thanks to early enrollees counting back to the previous class if not all 25 scholarships were allocated, or by convincing a prospect to take a grey shirt, essentially joining the program without a scholarship until the following spring term and counting forward to the next signing class.
Under the one-time waiver, college football programs will be able to sign up to seven additional players to compensate for transfer losses who leave the program after the first term. These seven players cannot come from the high school ranks (transfers only). Essentially, this allows each program to sign up to 25 high schoolers and 7 transfer players, meaning each program’s 2022 signing class can be as high as 32 players. However, each program is still limited to 85 total scholarships for the 2022-23 school year, meaning each program’s actual class size will be dependent on how many scholarships are available.
Clear as mud, right?
Let’s break down what this means for Mike Norvell and the Florida State Seminoles football program:
- Tribe ‘22 can have up to 25 high school prospects, depending on how many scholarships are available. This is a positive development for a program still trying to flip its roster.
- In addition to those 25, Florida State can sign up to 7 prospects from the transfer portal, depending on how many guys leave after the fall semester. This is also a positive development because it provides the coaching staff more flexibility to encourage some players to pursue other possibilities after the fall term ends.
- To be clear, Dontae Lucas, Josh Griffis, Brandon Moore, and Deonte Sheffield DO NOT count toward this number because they’ve already left the program and/or entered the portal.
- Will FSU sign 32 players in the 2022 class? That remains to be seen based on how much attrition occurs following this season, but at this time, it’ll likely be under that number. FSU is still a very young team in terms of eligibility.
The NCAA Council members “acknowledged the solution is temporary but necessary; a more permanent solution will be considered in the coming months”.
Once more details become clear, we’ll be sure to update you.