Simpson nearly was part of a college football strategy called “gray shirting,” which means a football coach will ask an incoming freshman to delay enrollment to the spring semester, so he won’t count against the current year’s scholarship allotment.
NCAA rules limit coaches to only 25 scholarship players in an incoming recruiting class, and gray shirting allows coaches a way around that limit. Yes, it’s legal by NCAA rules, but it’s not without controversy.
Players asked to gray shirt typically are recovering from a major injury. Simpson is coming off knee surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament, but another MSU signee won’t be coming to campus, which opened a spot for Simpson, whose knee is recovering nicely.
Handley High’s Bradley Bozeman, who also is recovering from knee surgery, will delay enrollment at Alabama to January. Two other Tide recruits from 2012 were asked to gray shirt but declined to do so and signed elsewhere – Justin Taylor (Kentucky) and Darius Philon (Arkansas).
Neither player seemed terribly happy with Alabama afterward. Certainly, if the NCAA allows it, there’s no reason a coach shouldn’t exploit it. But wouldn’t it be nice if players didn’t have to wait until well after all of their classmates have reported to campus?
Contact Anniston Star Sports Editor Mark Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @MarkSportsStar.