Maybe Bronco Mendenhall knows something the rest of us don’t.
During Saturday’s victory against Georgia Tech, freshman offensive lineman Chris Glaser played for the first time this season. The Cavaliers have relied heavily on true freshmen this season, but three — Glaser along with defensive back Germane Crowell and quarterback Lindell Stone have — have played in three or fewer games.
Crowell, who is out for the rest of the season could qualify from a medical redshirt, but playing Glaser and Stone in one game each so far has traditionally meant their redshirts had been metaphorically burned.
But Monday, Mendenhall hinted that might not be the case. A few different proposals to amend redshirt rules have been discussed this year, but Mendenhall mentioned one that would allow players to play up to four games in a season and still redshirt.
A Virginia spokesperson went on to clarify that this a proposal brought forward by the ACC to be voted on in January and could retroactively apply to this season.
If that happens, Stone, Glaser and Crowell — three of the most prominent members of UVA’s 2017 recruiting class — would have four more years of eligibility.
It’s enough to make one wonder if Mendenhall has gotten a sense of how the vote will go and is now banking on approval. Stone and Glaser’s single game appearances thus far were prompted by need, but the situations also weren’t so dire the Virginia staff had no choice but to burn the redshirts. But if it’s a calculated risk, it might really pay off for Virginia down the line.
“In Chris’s case, especially, because he’s going to be, and already is, such a good player as a first-year…it was such a big decision,” Mendenhall said. “We talked to his folks and just spelled it all out. I don’t think many college football programs consult the player’s parents, but I thought it was the right thing to do.”
With three regular season games, plus a bowl and the slim chance of an ACC Championship Game appearance, Virginia should be able to keep both Stone and Glaser under the four-game mark this season, while still potentially getting them some significant in-game experience.
As the Cavaliers look to replace Kurt Benkert at quarterback next season along with four seniors who have started along the offensive line, it’s a potentially huge development, but it doesn’t come without some risk if the proposed changes are voted down or not applied to this season.
Handling redshirts is often a tricky part of a college football coaches job. By the end of Al Groh’s tenure at UVA in 2009, he had alienated high school coaches around the state at least in part because he’d, in their minds, unnecessarily burned redshirts in a desperate attempt to save his job.
Bronco Mendenhall seems to have a better plan in place, but it’s worth keeping an eye on how it ultimately plays out.