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NCAA modifies KO rules on fair catches

College football will feature a new kickoff rule this season, the NCAA announced Friday.

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The modification by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel will apply only to fair catches on kickoffs.

If any player on the receiving team signals for a fair catch inside his own 25-yard line, it results in an automatic touchback -- the same as if the a player kneeled in the end zone on a kickoff.

Per the previous rule, the ball was spotted at the yard marker where the player signaled for the fair catch. All other aspects of the kickoff rules remain unchanged.

The initial proposal behind the rule was based on safety concerns. The Football Rules Committee has sought to boost the number of fair catches because injuries are more prevalent on kickoffs that are returned.

The oversight panel also approved rules for blocking below the waist. Any offensive player will not be allowed to block below the waist when it occurs more than five yards beyond the line of scrimmage. Also, all blocks below the waist, with the exception of interior linemen, must be from the front.

Pace of player also was addressed by the panel. Following a touchdown, the play clock will be set at 40 seconds to expedite the ensuing extra-point or two-point conversion attempt.

The play clock also will be reset to 40 seconds immediately following all kickoffs.

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