Sometimes the smartest thing a college football program can do is give an elite recruit a redshirt season right off the bat.
Redshirts don't always have to be used for players coming off of injuries or recruits that need more time to hit the weights.
In many cases, a redshirt can be given to a recruit for strictly strategic reasons.
One: It gives the player a year to learn the system, and that's extremely important—especially for skill players.
Two: It can create some important separation in eligibility between the recruit and a star player at his respective position. That allows a program to get the most out of a recruit's skill set when they really need it.
All-in-all, redshirting is a great option when it's done strategically.
With that in mind, here are five elite recruits that should be redshirted in their first year:
Alabama's 4-star recruit Altee Tenpenny is going to be a very good running back at the college level. He has a good blend of size, power and agility, and he looks to be a perfect fit for Crimson Tides' offense.
The only issue for Tenpenny is that the Crimson Tide's depth chart is stacked with great running backs, and he'll be near the end of the list. We'll see 5-star Derrick Henry as the featured back from this 2013 class, and that's not even to mention Alabama's other running back recruit, 4-star Tyren Jones.
Tenpenny is the type of back who has the potential to be a featured runner for Alabama (or at the very least a great backup), so by redshirting him, the Tide can create a little bit more of an opening for him in the future as the depth chart clears out ahead of him.
At least by redshirting him, he'll be able to practice and train with the team, giving him valuable experience.
Being the quarterback of a big-time program is a huge responsibility, and that extra redshirt year of sitting and watching could be huge for Bateman, who has the potential to be the next great Crimson Tide quarterback.
Letting him take the year to get to know the ropes is the smartest thing Alabama can do.
Malik Zaire has all the potential to be a star quarterback in Brian Kelly's offense.
He's a duel-threat quarterback that is a very good runner, but also has a strong arm and can be very effective in the pocket.
The issue for Zaire is that Everett Golson looks to be "the guy" for Notre Dame. Not to mention the Irish also have Gunner Kiel, the No. 1 rated pro-style quarterback in the 2012 class according to Rivals.com.
Zaire can be much more than a backup for Notre Dame, so creating that separation between him, Kiel and Golson could prove to be wise for the future of the program.
That also gives Zaire an extra year to learn the system, and for a quarterback that's huge.
In time, Zaire has the potential to be a quarterback that can compete for the starting job at Notre Dame, but there's no need to rush him into the fold.
De'Athony Thomas will be a junior and Byron Marshall will be a sophomore at Oregon, and both players are more than capable of holding down the duties as running back.
Thomas Tyner is going to be a star running back, but right now Oregon can afford to redshirt him to—at least to create some separation on the depth chart.
If all of your stars are on the depth chart at once, somebody's potential is not being utilized.
Tyner could essentially play the role that Thomas does for Oregon now, and the NFL could be the next logical step for Thomas.
When Thomas does eventually leave, having a player like Tyner with that extra year of eligibility will be huge.
Note: We'll have to see if Chip Kelly taking the Philadelphia Eagles job will impact Tyner's commitment to Oregon. He'll be the major recruit to keep an eye on now in the weeks leading up to national signing day.
Shane Morris is the future of Michigan's football program, but the future can wait for a few seasons.
If Devin Gardner proved anything this season, it was that he could be a serviceable pocket-passer, so moving forward with Gardner at the helm is a smart option for Brady Hoke and the Wolverines.
Gardner can make the transition to the pro-style offense, and that gives Morris a year or two to learn the system before having to deal with the pressure of being "the guy" in Michigan.
With Gardner potentially getting a medical redshirt, the need to create separation between him and Morris is definitely there.
Garner can finish out his years as the starter, and then Morris will still have plenty of eligibility left to take over—hopefully with more experience and with a fully transitioned offense.
There is the risk of Gardner getting injured and Michigan being without a true No. 1 (that is unless Russell Bellomy can step up), but that risk is well worth it if Michigan can get that extra year of eligibility out of Morris.