West Virginia linebacker Reed Williams and cornerback Brantwon Bowser are both planning to play in Saturday's football season opener against Villanova.

Williams is recovering from offseason surgeries to repair tears in his right and left shoulder. Bowser is recuperating a torn right anterior cruciate ligament.

However, a rapid return from a serious injury can be spoiled by a setback. There remains a possibility one or both could try to come back and either realize they're not fully prepared or suffer a related injury.

Either could keep them out for the remainder of the season, though a medical redshirt - formally known as a hardship waiver - and an extra year of eligibility is possible under certain circumstances.

According to WVU's compliance department, there are two main points for a player in a situation like Williams and Bowser. First, the player has to have an injury that will keep him out for the remainder of the season. Second, the decision to redshirt must be made within the first four games.

Guidelines for a medical hardship waiver:

* The injury or illness occurs in one of the four seasons of intercollegiate competition at any two-year or four-year collegiate institutions or occurs after the first day of classes in the student-athlete's senior year in high school.

* The injury or illness occurs prior to the first competition of the second half of the playing season that concludes with the NCAA championship in that sport and results in incapacity to compete for the remainder of that playing season

* In team sports, the injury or illness occurs when the student-athlete has not participated in more than three contests or dates of competition (whichever is applicable to that sport) or 30 percent (whichever number is greater) of the institution's scheduled or completed contests or dates of competition in his or her sport.

Only scheduled or completed competition (including exempted events) against outside participants during the playing season that concludes with the NCAA championship, or, if so designated, during the official NCAA championship playing season in that sport (e.g., spring baseball, fall soccer), shall be countable under this limitation in calculating both the number of contests or dates of competition in which the student-athlete has participated and the number of scheduled or completed contests or dates of competition during that season in the sport.

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