The NCAA announced some big changes on Wednesday, starting with the ending the practice of blocking transfers. In a more impactful change, the NCAA has announced that college football’s redshirt rules have significantly changed moving forward.

Beginning immediately, college football players of any year of eligibility, can compete in up to four games and still maintain their redshirt status. This has huge implications for the game moving forward as true freshmen will now be able to see the field their first season on campus and potentially return the next season as redshirt freshmen — as long as they don’t compete in five games.

Another positive outcome of this decision, teams will have significantly greater depth for games in the fall. In the past, some coaches would understandably refuse to pull a redshirt on a player just to sub in to finish out a game but now every coach has the option to do so.

Bowl games could be more interesting now, too. With the additional practices that come with a bowl invitation, young players will get that much more time to learn everything they need to know before hitting the field. It’s hard to imagine a coach doesn’t allow his redshirt players to see the field for the bowl game if they have yet to appear in four games to that point.

This move could potentially keep redshirt players more engaged in the season, too. In the past, once a player was redshirted, they didn’t have as much motivation week in and week out. Now those players will have the understanding that they could still see the field for a few games. If they excel while on the field, coaches could decide to keep them on the field for good and their redshirt status could be removed altogether.

Division I Council chairman, and Miami (Fla.) AD, Blake James offered up these comments to the new rule:

“This change promotes not only fairness for college athletes, but also their health and well-being. Redshirt football student-athletes are more likely to remain engaged with the team, and starters will be less likely to feel pressure to play through injuries,” James said. “Coaches will appreciate the additional flexibility and ability to give younger players an opportunity to participate in limited competition.”

One note to this rule, early enrollees are not permitted to play for their schools immediately upon arriving on campus. For example, if Alabama and Georgia wanted to use any of their 2018 signees in the previous Playoff, that action will not be permitted.