MORGANTOWN - Dana Holgorsen has been fond of saying that he would like to play a lot of freshmen, even with West Virginia heading into a highly competitive Big 12 Conference this fall.
About 40 freshmen are in camp for the Mountaineer football team this year, and Holgorsen said he would not be surprised if a lot of them work their way into the playing mix.
"I think we should have played more freshmen last year," Holgorsen said Monday. "We'll see where they are at, and if we feel they can be a contributor, then we'll play them. If they can help, they're going to play."
Two hulking offensive linemen out of Ohio are currently running with the second team, which is practically unheard of for that position. Tyler Orlosky (6-foot-4, 290 pounds) and Adam Pankey (6-5, 324) are getting plenty of notice from the coaching staff.
"I've never had two freshmen run second string," Holgorsen said. "The physical nature of these guys is pretty good from a freshman standpoint. A lot of it has to do with the NCAA allowing us to get guys in early and let them work out with the team for two months."
Holgorsen said determining if a player will be red-shirted as a freshman is often a tricky call. He said that call may be delayed until after the Mountaineers play three or four games. He points to wide receiver Ivan McCartney playing only sparingly as a freshman, blowing any opportunity to get four solid years of production.
"If he's not in the two-deep or not able to play on special teams, you red-shirt him," the coach said. "We are just trying to evaluate everybody and figure out who goes with the scouts. We still have a lot to do between now and then."
Jordan Thompson, dubbed "Squirt" by Holgorsen because of his 5-7, 155-pound body, will see action at wide receiver for WVU as a freshman. The coach said several new faces may be seen catching passes this fall.
"Squirt is something," Holgorsen said. "Devonte Robinson, Devonte Mathis, Will Johnson and Travares Copeland are repping quite a bit. If there is a place for them, I wouldn't be opposed to playing all five of them."