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Early Enrollees Hoping to Play Football in Spring Season

Brock Fritz

The fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic could actually create an extra opportunity for current high school football players in position to take advantage.

It’s become commonplace for high-level football players to graduate high school early and begin working with their college team in the spring before their freshman year. That pathway could look different this year, as colleges might be doing more than holding spring practice.

Related content: Big Ten Commissioner: Decision to Cancel Fall is Final

While six of the 10 FBS conferences are still hoping to play this fall, the Big Ten and Pac-12 are among those that have postponed football with the hopes of playing some form of season during second semester. Therefore, the NCAA has to determine whether early enrollees or mid-year transfers would be eligible to participate in college games during what would be the second half of their senior year of high school.

“We don’t have a definite answer, but everything I’ve heard is we could be eligible. The good thing is it might not count as a year of eligibility,” highly-ranked quarterback Miller Moss, who plans to enroll at USC in January, told Sports Illustrated this week. “It’s super exciting for me to hear. Nothing like it has ever happened before. It’s a unique opportunity. People talk about losing those (high school) game reps as a senior, but you could add game reps at a higher level.”

According to SI, the NCAA Division I Football Oversight Committee is examining the issue, with chairman Shane Lyons — the West Virginia athletic director — saying mid-year enrollees shouldn’t be eligible. If they are eligible, it could be a boost for kids who had their senior high school seasons canceled or postponed this fall. However, would players be allowed to compete if they had played prep football in the fall?

If players are allowed to compete in spring games, they would essentially get an extra season of college eligibility. The NCAA Division I Council ruled last week that all fall athletes get an extra year of eligibility, whether they play or not.

“The question is, is the interpretation going to apply for mid-year enrollees?” Lyons says. “There is a recruiting disadvantage for those playing (in the fall). You don’t have the opportunity to say ‘You get to play in the spring if you come here. I don’t think that was the intent of the eligibility (change). It’s about those who were already enrolled.”

Related content: NCAA DI Council Meeting to Discuss Extra Eligibility

However, there likely won’t be a chance for national titles this spring, as the College Football Playoff is moving ahead as scheduled. The current schedule has Jan. 1 semifinal games and a Jan. 11 national title game. CBS Sports reported that there are no plans for a spring playoff.

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