Buie and Garrison, the team's leading rushers in each of the last two years, may have to take a back seat this year to Houston transfer Charles Sims and junior college back Dreamius Smith. Throw freshman Wendell Smith into the mix and that's five.
Of course, two years ago the Mountaineers came out of spring and into the fall with six and it wasn't enough. Vernard Roberts, Trey Johnson, Daquan Hargrett, Shawn Alston, Buie and Garrison all were either hurt and/or left the team.
"You can never have enough,'' Dawson said.
At some positions, depth could play a factor in other ways. Take safeties, for instance, where Cook and Joseph are entrenched as the starters. Behind them are K.J. Dillon, Jarrod Harper, Ricky Rumph and promising freshman Jeremy Tyler, all of who might be able to play. But changing safeties isn't like changing running backs or even the cover cornerbacks who play beside them.
"Safeties are a little different than corners,'' safeties coach Tony Gibson said. "The corners you kind of treat like shooters in basketball. If they're hot they're on the field. And then if they start to struggle you might get them out for a series or two. The safeties are different because they're so involved with the scheme of things. They're making calls and making checks, so it's harder to rotate guys in and out.
"Now, if we have guys that are equal, then both of them will play. But if a guy stands out and he's just better then he's going to play until he can't play anymore.''
There are, however, other opportunities for safeties to play because many times they are the extras on the back end in a nickel or dime package.
"So there's going to be an opportunity for all those guys to contribute,'' Gibson said.
Then again, sometimes depth isn't an issue if no one gets hurt. Take Joseph, for instance, who led the team in tackles last season and if he had his way would never come out.
"I'm not really worried about depth,'' Joseph said. "I'll play as many snaps as the coaches want me to.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.