ARTICLE 4. No eligible offensive receiver who goes out of bounds and returns in bounds during a down shall touch a legal forward pass while in the field of play or end zones or while airborne until it has been touched by an opponent or official. [Exception:This does not apply to an originally eligible offensive player who immediately returns inbounds after going out of bounds due to contact by an opponent]. If the player touches the pass before returning in bounds, it is an incomplete pass (Rule 7-3-7) and not a foul for illegal touching.
PENALTY—Loss of down at the previous spot [S16 and S9].
Approved Ruling 7-3-4 I. Eligible A88 voluntarily goes out of bounds, returns inbounds, and is the first player to touch the legal forward pass. This touching by A88 occurs in Team B’s end zone. RULING: Illegal touching. Penalty—Loss of down at the previous spot.
Approved Ruling 7-3-4 II. Eligible A88 voluntarily goes out of bounds during a down in which a legal forward pass is thrown. He returns to the field of play inbounds but does not touch the ball and is held by an opponent before the ball is touched by any player. RULING: Not pass interference—A88 is not eligible to catch a legal forward pass. Penalty—Ten yards from the previous spot and automatic first down.
Approved Ruling 7-3-4 III. Wide receiver A88 is blocked out of bounds by B1 and then runs 20 yards before returning inbounds to the field of play. A88 catches a legal pass in Team B’s end zone. RULING: Foul for illegal touching due to A88’s failure to return inbounds immediately. Penalty—Loss of down at the previous spot.
Approved Ruling 7-3-4 IV. Eligible receiver A44 is running a pass pattern near the sideline. As a legal forward pass comes toward him, he accidentally steps on the sideline, leaps, muffs the pass into the air while airborne, returns to the ground inbounds, grabs the ball and lands on his knees inbounds with the ball firmly in his possession. RULING: Incomplete pass. A44 first touched the ball while airborne and thus out of bounds since he had not established in bounds. (Rule 2-27-15)