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Get Ready For Complaints: Bama Switches Recruit’s Scholarship To Grayshirt

grayshirtGet ready to hear plenty of moans and complaints, folks.  When the words “Nick Saban” and “grayshirt” are mentioned in the same sentence, messageboards explode with angry accusations and just-as-angry defenses.

According to, Alabama’s coach has asked injured offensive line commitment Bradley Bozeman of Roanoke, Alabama to take a grayshirt and join the Tide football team next year.  That’s a January of 2014 enrollment rather than a 2013 enrollment.  The 4-star prospect committed to Alabama in June, but he’s currently rehabbing from an ACL injury.

So is Saban exploiting a teenager’s injury in order to skirt the SEC’s 25-man “soft” signing cap?  Not according to Bozeman:


“Coach Saban switched my scholarship to a grayshirt.  I have known about it for about two months.  We have been keeping it on the down low.  We didn’t know for sure if that was going to be the option.  It was due to the ACL injury.  It will give me more time to get stronger…

Honestly, I think it’s the best decision for me.  I trust in the coaches.  They are going to make the right decision.  They won three out of the four national championships.  I am going to honor my commitment.  I am staying with them…

We are six to eight weeks ahead of schedule (in his recovery).  I squatted 400 pounds recently.  We are trying to be smart about it though.  The doctors told me I will be back to 100% by April.  They said I have probably been one of the best recoveries they have seen.”


You might remember that Saban and Alabama were mixed up in two ugly grayshirt stories that made national news last year.  Bama asked a Georgia running back named Justin Taylor to take a grayshirt just weeks before signing day.  He wound up signing with Kentucky instead.  Then an Alabama defensive line prospect named Darius Philon was asked to grayshirt a week before signing day (according to a teammate).  Though he put on an Alabama ball cap at his school’s signing day event, Philon wound up inking with Arkansas instead.

Taylor had been an Alabama commitment for a year.  Philon had been committed to the Crimson Tide for more than five months.

In Bozeman’s case, Saban at least gave the player a heads-up to the situation well in advance of signing day, though Bama coaches didn’t give him the final word until his visit to Tuscaloosa this weekend.

For those unfamiliar with the process, a grayshirted player signs his letter of intent in February only to delay his enrollment until the following year.  He does not report in the fall with other February signees.  The eligibility for a grayshirted player does not begin until he enrolls as a full-time student the following year.

Now that he’s the latest Alabama grayshirt to make news, all eyes will be on Bozeman to see if he does ink with Alabama… if he changes his mind as Taylor and Philon did… and if he indeed winds up a member of Saban’s football team this time next year.



Trying to clarify a "grayshirt." 

1.  An athlete has 5 years of eligibility to play.  His "clock" starts the semester he enters college. 

2.  Most grayshirts do not enter college until January.  That is when their 5 year clock starts.  In effect they get one extra semester of college.  They get the advantage of going through a Spring practice (just like early enrollees) before their freshman year of football.

3.  If they choose to enter college in the fall, which most do not, then (a) they are responsible for the cost of school and (b) their 5 year clock starts.

4.  If I had a son, I would love for him to grayshirt.  An extra semester of college paid for.  If he also redshirts, he has two Spring practices plus his redshirt season to adapt to college and to prepare to play.  He has 5 1/2 years of scholarship, plus summers.  He can earn his masters degree, not just his 4 year degree, while on full scholarship.

5.  Unless your intention is to get out of school and into the NFL in 3 years, grayshirting is a great deal for the student and his parents.


John, you say a grayshirt delays his enrollment until the following year, but don't they always enroll mid-year because they would have graduated high school anyway? They either have to pay for the fall semester and start on scholarship in January, or lay out of school a few months until January.  Either way doesn't seem like a huge deal, especially with a player who's still recovering from injury.


There's no problem with gray-shirting as long as both parties agree to it. Saban has used it ever since LSU,  as have other schools. Last year there was a big stink about it because that was the first year of the new cap on recruiting and Saban miscalculated the numbers and had to ask two recruits to gray-shirt late in the process.  LSU and South Carolina are two other schools who got into some controversey about it previously.  Last year was the only year Saban has ever screwed it up and with the new rules put in, I think it was a one-off situation. If it ever happens again with Saban, I too will villify him, we'll see.  As I understand it, the kid will now come in for the winter quarter next January, along with early enrollees and essentially will be one of them in all respects.


so out of curiousity, does a grayshirted player have to wait to start going to school?  unless he wants to pay for his own classes he can't start going to school there yet because his scholarship isn't active?  that's the main problem i'd have with this situation 


I think I know the answer to this but just to clarify, if a player is grayshirted, he's personally responsible for paying full board and tuition his freshman year in college, correct?

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator



It is a half-year in terms of semesters... instead of enrolling in the fall, he'll enroll in the spring.  But I was referring to the calendar year... instead of inking this February and enrolling in 2013, he'll ink and enroll in 2014.  Either way I write that, someone's going to take it the other way.  


Thanks for reading the site,



@alamoaggie08 I don't believe that'd be the case. I think if you're accepted as a student, regardless of your athletic status, your acceptance is final. I can't envision a scenario where the registrars office would rescind an invitation to enroll because the player won't be on the team in the Fall. My guess is the impact would be financial with the player and his family having to bear the full burden of attending classes and living on campus for the next year. To me, that's an unfair expectation in general although in this case, it appears that the player had plenty of advance notice so that does mitigate it somewhat.


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