Who is eligible to receive a hand-off in American football?
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The concept of an eligible receiver applies only in the case of a forward pass.
The person passing the ball must be a member of the offensive team, and the recipient of the forward pass must be an eligible receiver and must touch the passed ball before any ineligible player.
When a hand-off takes place, the ball is not advanced towards the opponent goal line, so any player who reaches the quarterback would be eligible to take a hand-off.
In American football, a hand-off is the act of handing the ball directly from one player to another, i. e. without it leaving the first player's hands. Most rushing plays on offense begin with a handoff from the quarterback to another running back.
Going by this definition, any player can legally receive the hand-off. However, if the wide receivers, center, guards or tackles fall back to receive a hand-off, it would leave the quarterback susceptible to an attack. Therefore, it is usually the running back who receives the hand-off and makes the offensive play. Oftentimes, the running back is an agile player who can successfully execute an offensive play from a hand-off.