Walton’s David Paulsen, who was offered a scholarship by Georgia this week, had to learn about the “grayshirt” recruiting term.
It’s when a senior signs with a college in February but does not enroll during the summer with the rest of his recruiting classmates because of a scholarship overload. Instead, the player delays his start in college until January, allowing the school to count him toward the following year’s scholarship total.
Georgia coach Mark Richt brought up the “grayshirt” issue with Paulsen when making an in-home visit on Monday. It is a creative way to try to get Paulsen to play in Athens.
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Paulsen is a lifelong Georgia fan. But when he didn’t have an offer last month, he committed to Oklahoma State. But Richt concluded recently that he wanted to sign a fullback, and Paulsen was the No. 1 target.
Georgia has less than the normal 25 scholarships this year because of a large senior class. The Bulldogs are expected to sign no more than 21 or 22 players, and that includes two scholarships that were added after Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno made early NFL exits.
Georgia has 18 commitments and has offers out to about six more of the nation’s top prospects, including Carver-Columbus linebacker Jarvis Jones and offensive tackle Bobby Massie of Hargrave, Va.
If Georgia gets more commitments than scholarships on signing day, then two prospects will have to wait as “grayshirts.”
“Coach Richt said that every year that he has been at Georgia, he has offered two players grayshirt scholarships,” Paulsen said. “And each year, it never came to that because both were able to start at Georgia with the rest of that year’s recruits.”
Scholarships eventually have opened up each spring because of attrition on Georgia’s roster. Veteran members of the team either transferred to another school or gave up football for various reasons, including medical hardships.
“[Richt] said he couldn’t promise anything this summer, but that there was no reason to think that a scholarship for me wouldn’t become available,” Paulsen said. “However, if it didn’t work out for whatever reasons, he promised that I would have a scholarship waiting for me in January.
“So that’s where I am in the recruiting process. In the back of my mind, I always thought that Georgia might offer me late. I’m very appreciative of it, but I’ve just got to think things out.”
Paulsen said he remains committed to Oklahoma State, but he plans to make an official visit to Georgia on Jan. 23.
“I definitely have to give Georgia some consideration,” Paulsen said. “I don’t want to have any regrets 10 or 20 years down the road. I want to talk more with [Richt], discuss everything with my parents and make sure I’m doing the right thing.”
Oklahoma State’s offer has no strings attached. The Cowboys want Paulsen on campus by June to prepare to make immediate contributions at fullback and tight end.
The advantages of a grayshirt year are having an extra six months to train before enrolling in college, and once enrolled in January, having 5 1/2 years to work toward undergraduate and masters degrees, rather than the normal five.
Paulsen said the disadvantage is sitting out at least one year of football, and possibly two, if he is red-shirted as a freshman.
“That would be very challenging for me to be away from football for that amount of time,” he said.
Walton coach Ed Dudley said Paulsen is among the best he has coached.
“He’s a big kid with a tremendous work ethic and character,” Dudley said. “We didn’t use him as much on offense as we would’ve liked because he was a big-time player at defensive end. But I think he’s an offensive guy in college. He is very physical with blocking, he understands all the different schemes and alignments, and he has a great set of hands. He should be able to contribute immediately on special teams.”
An explanation for the different colored shirts in recruiting:
Grayshirt: A player signs in February, but does not enroll in the summer with his teammates. He delays entry until January and counts against the team’s scholarship total for the following year.
Redshirt: This happens to many freshmen. They practice and do everything with the team except play in games. The NCAA allows each player five years to complete four years of athletic eligibility. The athlete essentially sits out for one season.
Greenshirt: This is when a player graduates one semester early from high school and enrolls in college in January. Popular option for players who are expected to play as freshmen.