Ask the Official: How many players can be in motion before the snap?

By Adam Wire | Posted 12/4/2017

Welcome to Ask the Official, a weekly blog series from USA Football. We’ve teamed up with Bill LeMonnier, USA Football rules editor, who’s served as a college football referee and also works with ESPN as a rules analyst. Look for LeMonnier’s blog every week during football season, as we take reader-submitted questions or revisit a controversial play that took place the previous weekend. See below for information on how to submit your questions. Here’s today’s topic:

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Q: Can you snap the ball with four people in motion and not get called for illegal motion?

A: "No more than one player can be in motion at the snap at any level of American football. Canadian football allows for a maximum of two.

"Four (or more) players can shift prior to the snap, but they all need to come set before the ball could be snapped our any single player go into motion.

"For the snap to become legal, all need to set if two or more were moving.  To legally be in motion, all 11 must set before a Back can legally go in motion. College football added a twist that if all 11 don't set and a player is moving at the snap, it becomes a false start.  If all set and now two or more are moving and don't reset prior to the snap, it is an illegal motion penalty."

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USA Football Rules Editor Bill LeMonnier is a former college football referee who currently serves as an ESPN NCAA rules analyst. Click here to ask Bill a question. Make sure to put “Ask the Official” in the subject line.