Ask the Official: What is legal contact with a receiver?

By Adam Wire | Posted 12/11/2017

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: What are the NCAA's rules for when a defender can legally make contact with a receiver before the pass is thrown?

A: "Eligible receivers can be legally blocked beyond the line of scrimmage until the pass is thrown. Once the receiver is on the same yard line or beyond the defender, then the defender must leave him alone.  

"You can cut an eligible receiver at the line of scrimmage, but not beyond."

Rule 9

d. Defensive players may not use hands and arms to tackle, hold or otherwise illegally obstruct an opponent other than a runner.

e. Defensive players may ward off or legally block an eligible pass receiver until that player occupies the same yard line as the defender or until the opponent could not possibly block him. Continuous contact is illegal (A.R. 9-3-5-I).

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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.