When blue turns to orange

So I come across this post at Field Street Forum about a disgruntled former Vol commit and see a term with which I’m not familiar.

The Vols are getting into the habit of taking an early commitment from a recruit, just to recruit over them and ask them to ‘blue shirt’ when national signing day approaches.

A blue shirt is a way to get a recruit on a team without spending a scholarship this year and promise to put him on a scholly later.

So I Google “what is a blueshirt” and find this.

South-Doyle High School athlete Joc Bruce told the News Sentinel on Wednesday morning that he will be a blueshirt at Tennessee. That doesn’t change his status with the program much, but it does change the class against which his scholarship will be counted.

Blue-shirting is an approach pioneered by New Mexico State, which used it recruiting junior college players. The NCAA allows athletes who were “not recruited” to arrive on campus as walk-ons, accept scholarships at the beginning of preseason practice and be counted against the next recruiting class instead of the incoming one. An athlete is only considered to have been recruited if he takes an official visit to campus, accepts an in-home visit from the coaching staff or signs a National Letter of Intent or other athletic-based financial aid agreement before arriving on campus.

By blue-shirting an athlete, teams can take in more than the 25 scholarships allotted each season for “initial counters.” Programs can have 85 players on scholarship at any point in time, but are only allowed to have 25 players as part of any individual signing class. Blue-shirting allows some relief from that. The Vols took advantage of the loophole last year and are expected to do it more this year. Vincent Perry, an all-purpose back from Hillsboro High School in Nashville is also expected to blueshirt.

I’m amazed to discover there’s cutting-edge envelope pushing out there in the recruiting world that didn’t originate with Nick Saban, or even the SEC.  Has anybody told Jim Delany about this?


Filed under Recruiting

22 responses to “When blue turns to orange

  1. The other doug

    Would we know if a Bama player had blue shirted? It seems like it would only come out if the player or Saban talk.


    • How could you hide a walk on getting an immediate scholarship that counted towards the following season?

      Saban doesn’t blueshirt because Saban doesn’t need to blueshirt.


      • Irwin R. Fletcher

        Just so we are all clear here…a non-binding, oral agreement with an attorney to represent you after you are done playing makes you ineligible…but a non-binding offer for a scholarship isn’t ‘recruiting’ because the kid didn’t take an OV?

        I would say that they are completely duplicitous and inconsistent, but when you look at it from the vantage point that both interpretations give the player the least amount of control over the process, then it becomes perfectly consistent in a ‘you have to be kidding me’ sort of way.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Isn’t this just a different form of gray shirting? As long as the coach is up front about it, I don’t see a problem. When the scholarship gets yanked about the time they are ready to sign, that’s a completely different issue.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mp

      That’s it exactly. But how would you necessarily hear if it got yanked? Creates potential for the kid to get screwed, and once that happens the rules are stacked against the kid having any recourse.


    • Bazooka Joe

      I was about to type the same thing (well close, I thought it WAS grey shirting).


    • Bazooka Joe

      I think part of the problem is that coaches are not up-front about it. They wait ntil later in the cycle, making it harder for the recruit to look elsewhere.


  3. Granite-Dawg

    Am I right in thinking Some if not all of our early enrollees can count against last years numbers?


  4. This seems like fuzzy math, I’m not sure I see the long term benefit. I can see in the short term how it could help you “oversign” for a year or two, but eventually those numbers start counting, leaving less room in future classes. And even at that point, you could continue blue-shirting, but over the long term, the scholarships are still gonna count and on average you won’t be able to exceed the 25/yr. Am I missing something? It’s like the gray-shirting thing – you hear a lot about it as a general complaint, but you really don’t hear of THAT many specific examples. I would guess even the most aggressive schools that use grayshirts don’t average more than 1 grayshirt a year. Eventually the numbers are gonna count…..you can work around the system for a year or so, but after that the benefit seems negligible.


    • David K

      Unless you’re pulling scholarships and forcing kids to quit for medical reasons when they’re not panning out after 2-3 years in the program.


      • As I understand it, the rule of 25 scholarships per year isn’t affected by how many scholarships you yank. With the SEC rule, you’re limited to 25 a year regardless (some count backwards and some count forward, but any given year can only be assigned 25).

        Again, in the end, I don’t see this as some great loophole. If the kid is aware of it and in agreement with it, doesnt seem like a big issue that needs to be addressed. The scholarship has to be counted at some point, and whenever it is counted, they still can’t exceed 25 for that year. At best it’s a short term loophole, but not something that can allow you to beat the cap over the long term.


        • The other doug

          According to Rivals, the Vols have the 29th best recruiting class with 16 players. Maybe they are already paying for those blue shirts.


      • whb209

        You just run them off. That is one of the responsibilities of the SC coach.
        See you after practice and the team never hears from you again.


  5. Go Dawgs!

    This seems like the sort of loophole that will be closing soon.

    It also seems like the sort of thing that would be difficult to pull off with any highly sought after player who didn’t grow up having his heart set on attending your school. If you’re an undecided blue chipper and, say, Florida is inviting a kid to campus and showing up at the house and Florida State is just sending you texts and calling you and asking you to just show up to campus when classes start, which school are you going to go to?


    • Tronan

      It does seem to be an option for marginal players and I can’t see very many of them opting to blueshirt if they’ve got even one other scholarship offer. For example, and per your point, I can’t see Sony Michel accepting a blueshirt from Miami when he had offers from UGA and others. (Not that this ever would have been proposed in his case.)


  6. @gatriguy

    Butch is really becoming horribly unlikable. I will be amazed if his time in Knox doesn’t end in scandal.


    • Bulldog Joe

      They said the same thing about Saban.

      Butch built depth using the same tactics. Just as importantly, Butch arranged for Jalen Reeves-Maybin, Cam Sutton, and Alvin Kamara to return to the Vols this upcoming season after all three were leaning toward the NFL.

      Butch will be loved if the depth he is building results in a championship. He knows this is what he will be evaluated on, not moral grandstanding.


  7. Comin' Down The Track

    Recruiting is gross.


  8. South FL dawg

    When even New Mexico State is trying to give away more than 25 scholarships…just raise the limit. It’s not like the academic side couldn’t use it.