Gators, Mullen seeing benefit of revamped redshirt rule

Florida freshman quarterback Emory Jones is upended in the second half Saturday against Georgia at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]

Often, a head coach arriving at a program is faced with two paths: try and compete now with the previous regime’s depth, or establish the culture from the onset with the new faces.

Dan Mullen had a similar dilemma when he arrived in Gainesville. The Gators were coming off a 4-7 season and returned the majority of starters; there was little indication a turnaround was inevitable or even likely.

Yet Mullen has tread the fine line between focusing on the present while developing the future in 2018 — although the results might have been startlingly different if it were any other season.

The Gators opened the season playing every eligible freshman against Charleston Southern; in the past, the decision to use a freshman’s eligibility in an easily winnable game would have been considered a risky play. But for those unfamiliar with NCAA legislation, the organization announced a rule change in June that allowed Division I college football players to still redshirt if they haven’t played more than four games.

Coaches instantly looked to use the rule to their advantage, and Mullen opened up Monday about the unintended benefit the decree has had on the game this season.

“If we’re going to play someone, I want them to play at every position. So, if we’re going to redshirt him, let’s redshirt him,” Mullen said. “ think the new rule helps in a lot of ways where a guy like Emory (Jones) could go in and maybe get experience that way. I don’t think that was the overall intent of that rule. I think it’s a benefit of that rule.

“Obviously, the intent of that rule is injuries and all of a sudden you’ve got to burn a year for a guy that you were trying to redshirt because of injuries. It helps that a little bit.”

Fortunately for Florida, the Gators themselves have been generally healthier this season compared to Jim McElwain’s tenure, with much credit going to the renewed strength and conditioning program installed by Mullen and strength coordinator Nick Savage. Aside from defensive back, the Gators haven’t been forced to play freshmen at every position as Mullen said. But for the few freshmen who have seen considerable playing time this season — namely defensive back Trey Dean — the trial by fire has accelerated their development.

“There are a couple ways you look at it. Like Trey Dean? He’s not a freshman anymore. Not at this point,” Mullen said, while adding it can be difficult to balance challenging a freshman with overwhelming one. “Tim Tebow as a freshman, maybe he’s the easiest explanation for you; here are his strengths. When we put him in we’re going to put in plays that highlight his strengths and his strengths only. Go to his freshman year. If we’re up big, he may go in and run the whole offense. Or if you’re down big. It just doesn’t matter that much. But in a close game, we’re going to put things in that really highlight to their strength. That allows them to do things well on the field that builds up their confidence, even though they don’t have a big menu of things.”

With top corner Marco Wilson lost for the season, and CJ Henderson dealing with a nagging lower back issue, the Gators will likely see Dean’s menu increase as the season winds down. Although starting a true freshman in the secondary wasn’t the plan coming into his first season at the helm, Mullen can breathe a sigh of relief that the revamped redshirt rule has allowed Dean and several other freshmen to get some much-needed experience before the group found itself depleted heading into the decisive stretch of the season.

“If you look at a guy who gets thrown in and has to play all the time? That’s a different deal. You’re a freshman for the first couple games, but at that point you’ve played enough snaps that you’re a veteran guy,” Mullen said. “With every team and every situation, and injuries and how whole seasons always gone, you try (to play freshmen) early on. The rule helps give you a little flexibility because you do try as early on, ‘If we’re going to play him, let’s find a way to play him on special teams, on this and that’, ‘(If) you get over a hundred reps in the season type-of-deal. If we’re not, let’s try to protect him. That rule does help allow you to protect guys.”


Who: Missouri (4-4, 0-4) vs. No. 13 Florida (6-2, 4-2)

When: 4 p.m.

Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

TV: SEC Network

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850


  1. A player like Dean is only going to stick around for three years regardless. And Emory Jones will also be gone two years from now if he becomes a top tier SEC QB as a redshirt soph. In that case, he likely would not return for his last two years of eligibility anyway. So redshirting potentially top tier players really does not make much sense anymore, unless they do not become top tier players after they redshirt. In that case, why redshirt the player in the first place other than hoping forever, like with Franks, that they will suddenly have a light go on. It rarely does. But you usually just get flickers of light from them. Like Franks.

  2. I Know the rules but couldn’t explain why or what the point of the rule is. I guess it doesn’t matter but I don’t follow the logic. Same with transfer rules.
    If a player is good he will be gone after 3 years so nothing is gained imo.

  3. I haven’t actually read any statements from the NCAA regarding the reasoning behind this rule but I’m skeptical that it was put in place for the reason Mullen said it was. He says it’s so a guy doesn’t lose a year of eligibility because he gets injured after only playing a limited amount of time. Isn’t that what the medical redshirt rule was for. If I had to guess I’d say it is more for actually letting young players develop under limited snaps without burning a whole year of eligibility to do so.

      • Let me explain, LT. Say Franks is the QB and Jones is redshirting. Then Franks gets hurt in a game and then Trask gets injured, too, forcing Jones to come in and play QB under the old rules that did not allow a player to redshirt if that player enters a game after game three. Now, if this scenario happens, Jones could still play in any four games and still redshirt. Therefore the benefit of the new rule. Clear now?

    • Tampamoron. Does it make you feel like a man to talk crap on the internet? I’ll be at the game Saturday. I tailgate right across Univ Ave not more than 100 yds west of the stadium. I’ll give you the address of the duplex I park at. I’ll even give you a description of myself and the vehicle I drive. One thing I can’t stand is an internet loudmouth. I much prefer to see soft punks like you face to face. Care to stop by and talk crap to a real man? Or are you just an ankle biter yapping like a big dog?

      • I don’t always agree with you LT, but you’re definitely right here. Tampa thinks a little too high of himself. Comes off as a liberal journalist. Rednecks from north FL are inferior to him. Wonder if he ever twists an ankle getting off that high horse? 🐎😎

        • LT. The frying pan gets hot sometimes. Man up to it and do better than your Noles. And I apologize for passing on some education on the redshirt rule and what Mullen was addressing, which you clearly did not understand.

          • Gainesville and the surrounding area is in north FL too. Even us illiterate rednecks can figure that out. Of course Tampa is made up of mostly transplanted Yankees that retired and know more than anybody that grew up in the south. You should fit in well with the liberal transplants.

          • Gainesville is considered central Florida. And Trump is from NY. So there goes your theory and generalizations as about north and south folks out the window. And my post to LT was educational, not political or socio-economically based. But like I said, some things go over people’s heads and still do. Time to go eat some fried catfish and fritters. Might have some chitlins, too. And, oh shucks, might even wash them things down the hatch with a Bud Light or ten.

        • Sparky
          I won’t even get in to the political side of people like him. But from a societal standpoint, he is an excellent example of the erosion of people taking responsibility for their actions. He hides behind the anonymity of the internet, makes a total horses azz out of himself, yet won’t step up and take responsibility for those actions, whatever that responsibility may be. He calls others trolls. Which is another perfect example of shirking responsibility and also living a fantasy life through the internet. A troll is someone who intentionally antagonizes others on the internet. So what does he do? Goes from article to article, usually making statements that have little to do with the subject, and are normally quite childish and intended to antagonize. Isn’t that a troll???? But I’m his fantasy online world, he’s thinks he’s not. It’s quite sad. I’ve been coming on here from time to time for months. I’ve noticed he’s ALWAYS posting on here. Virtually every day. This simple little message board apparently is very important to him. Which is also sad. And apparently so guy got so much in his feelings at some point that Tampamoron has become totally obsessed with him, largely because, once again, this message board seems so important to him. Again, very sad. So now, he has become the very thing he claims to hate, a troll. He talks big because this message board and the people on it have become so important to him that he seems to deeply care what the other people on here think about him. So I’m calling him out in front of these people that are so important to him and on this message board that seems to have consumed him. Step out behind your keyboard you sissy little punk named Tampamoron. Join us in the real world where there is consequences. Show up. Talk to me face to face.

        • So you stopped having physical fights and started running your pansy little mouth on the internet?? And you think that’s a real man?? And who said anything about fighting? You wont even talk to me face to face whether it’s a fight or not. You hide behind the internet. You are pathetic. You are a perfect example of what our society has become. A bunch of cowards who are internet bad asses. You run your mouth because there is no consequences. You are afraid of the consequences of doing the exact same thing face to face. You are scared. You are a mouse, not a man. You have no more manhood than a prepubescent 12 year old boy. Anyone can do what you do. Anyone can talk crap while typing. At least be a man and do it in real life and face the potential consequences like a man. You are a joke. You are simply a worthless coward. Show up before the game and run your mouth to my face. I already gave you my location. I’ll be there from about 1:30 until about 3:30. That’s plenty of time just to drop by and say “Hi, I’m the idiot who likes to run my mouth on the internet”. But you don’t have the guts to even do that. You are afraid there may be a fight. That’s why you brought up fighting, because I certainly didn’t. You are scared of the thought of having to actually grow some gonads and stand up like a man and accept repercussions for your actions. You are just an embarrassment to other men. Just a loser.

          • So me I count 4 times this tampa gator guy was trying to provoke you before you responed then he tries to turn you anger around like its your fault in the first place? Same guy who says all the nasty racist things about people in jacksonville and when others call him out then its other people who are wrong to be upset. What a jerk. A bully who can treat people anyway he want to just because he is better than everyone else and then pretends they are the probelm? He is a scared little coward if somebody stands up to him for real so good for you its about time.

  4. I believe the other side of that rule was meant to apply in the case of an injured upper classman towards the end of the season. Under the old rule, putting in a freshman in the last few games of the season (even the last game or a bowl game) would blow the planned redshirt. Under the new rule, as long as the player doesn’t exceed four games, the freshman could play and keep the redshirt.

  5. “the Gators themselves have been generally healthier this season compared to Jim McElwain’s tenure, with much credit going to the renewed strength and conditioning program installed by Mullen and strength coordinator Nick Savage.”

    Is that statement based on scientific data or an opinion or anecdotal evidencel?

  6. Sly. Del Rio, Ivey, Gardner-Johnson, Polite, Jefferson, Zuinga, Bryan, Johnson, Taylor (safety), Dawson, Jordan, McCoy, Heggie, Davis, Cleveland, Swain, Hammond, Lewis, Joseph, and Reese all were injured last year and missed a bunch of playing time. Very few season or preseason injuries this year. So work that into stats.

    • I’m not questioning that there were more injuries under McElwain or that the conditioning isn’t better under Savage . I’m questioning if there is a correlation between conditioning and injury. I’m not saying there is not. I don’t know but I’m not going to jump to conclusions and declare it to be fact. I know many McElwain haters have drawn that conclusion though. I try to be more objective. I could make a counter argument that high school players aren’t as well conditioned as college players. As such, shouldn’t they sustain more injuries than college players? Just wondering if there are any facts, data, or studies to prove the correlation.

      • Sly. Clearly, the better shape a player is in, the less likely the player is to get injured. But even the best conditioned players get injured. But I would rather go with better conditioned player every single time, and that is what Florida has this year. And they also have less injuries than the much lesser conditioned players from last year with McElwain. So, 2 plus 2 = what?

      • Sly different world bit the military has done studies on this fitness v injury. There was a clear difference in the number of injuries in fit people v unfit people in this case soldiers. There was a slight difference in types of injuries as fitness increased. There was also a faster heading in fit people. That may not be verbatim on the study but it was done scientifically.

          • 65 — couldn’t get on all day, but wanted to comment that I’m also familiar with the studies you mention. I’d have to do a lot of research to look them up but I can tell you the earliest I recall was up at Ft Ben Harrison (AG C&S), and I don’t remember any actually being done at Ft Sam Houston (AMEDD C&S) oddly enough. I think some were at Bragg but they only focused on jump injuries in conjunction with Benning. Mostly it was TRADOC, I think, looking at fitness levels (however they measured it between the APFT and 600-9) and training injuries in BCT/AIT. Correlational studies mostly, some nonparametics, but results were always demonstrating a significant inverse relationship (p<.05) where as measured fitness went up, training injuries went down. Now that doesn't directly show causation any more than wet streets cause rain, but of course the implications are there. So better than anecdotal anyway.

            Sly is of course right to seek actual proof beyond common sense and folklore, although in this discussion probably all parties are correct. Ask some of your contacts still in the airborne community too, and maybe if he's still on here Retired Soldier might know too since he was an 11B for about 25 years when the studies were done. Also probably in the Sports Medicine and Sports Psychology literature more recently.

  7. TampaGator is eating y’all alive! He is correct on every point he is making. I’m a Gator through and through, but most of y’all need to stop wearing the jorts and face the facts. You have no clue what you’re talking about. I bet you all coach your kids football team, so you think you know a little something. Wise up and get real.

  8. Nobody that lives in Alachua County considers themselves living in central FL. Orlando/Tampa is central. But. Evidently we’re all busy being country bumpkins here and don’t know as much as the “:know it all” from Tampa. Stay safe everyone, the weather channel just said we may have some severe weather here in north Florida….oops they must be directionally challenged too.