questionswhat does it mean to be a redshirt freshmen…


It means that you retain your eligibility to play additional seasons, but you are not allowed to play in actual games. Many athletes redshirt their freshman years to be able to practice and learn the playbook, but still be able to play a full four years of college sports.


As 90mcg112 said, its an additional year of eligibility for players who sit out or are designated "redshirt" their initial freshman year. The decision to "redshirt" a player is that of the coaching staff, not the player's. For example, sometimes you will hear that an athlete is a "true freshman", which means they are in their first year at the school, fresh from the high school ranks. When they say someone is a "redshirt freshman", it is truly their second year with the school, and their first year playing on the squad beyond practice/non game team activities.


Additionally a player who is injured may petition for an additional redshirt year. This is how you hear about sixth year players. Often they redshirt their freshman year and then are injured another year.


This is why Andrew Luck (and 3 of his teammates) are going pro even though they are "Juniors". They aren't Juniors at all: they are in their 4th year of college. At least one of this group has already graduated (going through Stamford in 3.5 years, impressive). The standard parlance has changed, so there are now 5 years of college: reshirt freshman, freshman, sophomore, junior, senior.
Essentially, this is a way to get a player to develop without burning a year of eligbility.


Note: College players only eligible to play for 4 (some cases non-consecutive) years.


It means your have a much greater chance of dying on an episode of Star Trek.


To add on to the above definitions, the red shirt can be used any year, but you only get one of them (sans catastrophic injuries).