College: 6-5-1

SECTION 5. Fair Catch

Dead Where Caught


a. If a Team B player makes a fair catch, the ball becomes dead where caught and belongs to Team B at that spot. [Exception: If a Team B player makes a fair catch of a free kick behind Team B’s 25-yard line, the ball belongs to Team B at its own 25-yard line. The next snap shall be from midway between the hashmarks, unless a different position on or between the hashmarks is selected by the team designated to put the ball in play before the play clock is at 25 seconds or before any subsequent ready-for-play signal. After the play clock is at 25 seconds or any subsequent ready-for-play signal, the ball may be relocated only after a charged team timeout unless preceded by a Team A foul or offsetting fouls.]

b. If a Team B player makes a valid fair catch signal, the unimpeded opportunity to catch a free or scrimmage kick continues if this player muffs the kick and still has an opportunity to complete the catch. If that player (or another Team B player) subsequently catches the kick, the ball belongs to Team B where the player making the signal first touched it. This protection terminates when the kick touches the ground.

Approved Ruling 6-5-1 I. After a valid or invalid signal, B1 muffs the punt and B2, who did not signal, catches the kick. RULING: The ball is dead when B2 catches it and the ball is placed where B1 first touched it.

Approved Ruling 6-5-1 II. B1 has a foot out of bounds when he gives a valid or invalid signal. He then catches the kick inbounds. RULING: There is no rule against a receiver going out of bounds during a kick. The inbounds catch is legal, and the ball is dead.

Approved Ruling 6-5-1 III. During a free kick, B21 signals for a fair catch at the B-5. B21 muffs the kick but immediately recovers the ball at the B-5. RULING: Not a completed Fair Catch. Team B ball, first and 10 at the B-5.

c. Rules pertaining to a fair catch apply only when a scrimmage kick crosses the neutral zone or during free kicks.

d. The purpose of the fair catch provision is to protect the receiver who, by using the fair catch signal, agrees they or a teammate will not advance after the catch.

Approved Ruling 6-5-5 III. B1 catches the punt after B3 signals for a fair catch. RULING: The ball is dead when and where caught. B1 is not entitled to catch protection but is entitled to the same protection he has after any other dead ball (Rule 6-5-1d).

e. The ball shall be put in play by a snap by the receiving team at the spot of the catch if the ball is caught (Exceptions: Rules 6-5-1a, 6-5-1b, 7-1-3 and 8-6-1b).