ATHENS — Knowshon Moreno at Georgia practices, simulating the other team’s tailback? It could happen. Champ Bailey as a scout-team cornerback, or Hines Ward simulating another team’s option quarterback? That could happen too.
There’s a little-known rule that allows college teams to bring former players back to practice “occasionally.” It’s been in place since 2011, but only this year have teams begun exploiting it – most notably, of course, Alabama.
Prior to playing LSU, Saban brought in former Alabama star Trent Richardson to simulate LSU running back Leonard Fournette, and former Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson to simulate LSU quarterback result: Alabama shut out the Tigers, 10-0, holding Fournette to 35 yards on 17 carries.
And prior to playing Texas A&M, Saban brought in former Alabama quarterback Blake Sims to play the role of Aggies quarterback Trevor Knight.
Alabama wasn’t the first school to do it this season. California brought in former NFL star Marshawn Lynch, who retired after last season, to play on scout team.
But the fact it’s allowed apparently isn’t well-known: Ohio State’s Urban Meyer was asked about it Monday, and said he had no idea it was allowed, then joked about having to go make a phone call.
Georgia’s Kirby Smart also wasn’t aware of the rule either when asked Tuesday whether he’d consider it.
“It’d definitely be worth looking into if we had anybody who could help in those capacities,” Smart said.
Of course, what any coach would have to weigh is whether a former player would be as useful as a current one who could benefit by the scout team work. For instance, should Georgia use Moreno, or Elijay Holyfield, whose playing time has been scarce but could gain experience going against Georgia’s first-team defense?
The NCAA bylaw allowing former players to practice is 126.96.36.199. It reads: “A former student at the certifying institution (e.g., former student-athlete) may participate in an organized practice session on an occasional basis, provided the institution does not publicize the participation of the former student at any time before the practice session.”