Could a freshman play varsity college football in 1948?

I am writing a story in which freshmen play on the varsity college team. Would that have been possible? If possible, how likely or unlikely? Thanks!

Probably not possible. The NCAA only let freshmen begin playing in 1972.

Oh hey but look – set your story back just three or four years, and he might have qualified for a wartime exemption:

“Red Shirting” (the practice of keeping freshmen players off the varsity squad and preserving four years of athletic elegibility) was actually practiced as early as 1937, but it’s never been a requirement. A quick Google search said that 13 members of the 2007 Freshman All-American team were “true freshmen.”

There wouldn’t be a rule against it. As for how common it was, there were a whole bunch of WW2 veterans in college (and playing football) thanks to the GI Bill. An 18 or 19-year old freshman would have a tough time winning a spot on the team against 20 or 22-year olds who had been through military training.

ETA: As far as I know there was no rule against freshmen on the varsity, but if there’s a cite, I yield to that.

Thanks, guys. Helpful!

Depending on the Conference, it was allowed in the 1947-48 season.