ineligible by number


If you are a football coach or player (any level) and have a question about the rules, send your question to Curt Johnson at cmajohnson AT charter DOT net. Curt Johnson is a high school and college football official. Please specify NCAA (college) or NFHS (high school) rules in your question. This site also has an introduction to the rules and answers for fans.

Question: Can a cornerback grab a receiver by the jersey with his hands as they are coming off the line of scrimmage? How far downfield can the cornerback run with the receiver doing this?

Answer: No, the cornerback may not grab a receiver--that is holding (10 yard penalty, and under NCAA rules automatic 1st down if a forward pass is thrown). A defender may contact a reciever at the line of scrimmage, but only with a legal blocking technique. And he may continue to block him all the way down the field until the ball is thrown. But when the reciever gets to the same yardline as the defender, the defender must stop blocking him as he is no longer considered a "potential blocker."

Question: I want to run an unbalanced offense with only my guard and tackle on one side and everyone else on the other side. Can I bring both of my tight ends to one side, keep them on the line and still retain their pass eligibility, or do the eligible receivers on the line have to be on each end of the line?

Answer: Pass eligibilty rules apply to who is eligible to CATCH a legal forward pass. The receiver must be eligible by position AND by number. There are up to 6 eligible positions at the snap:

* The 2 players legally on the end of their line
* A player legally in his backfield--up to 4 including the QB

Also, these receivers must be wearing a number other than 50 thru 79 to catch the pass.

Your covered tight end is ineligible by position and your tackle on the end of the line is ineligible by number since he's probably wearing a number from 50-79. My suggestion would be to keep your TE on the end and move your guard or tackle over to where you moved your TE. That way you still have the same unbalanced formation but your TEs can now catch a pass.

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