The reason is simple: The coaches don't want to miss under-the-radar talent. The current examples are Clint Van Horn of Beckley, who finished the season as starting right tackle; Blake Brooks, the South Charleston grad who played important snaps in the Military Bowl; Derek Mitchell of Point Pleasant, who played a lot of special teams and some at linebacker; and Joe Woodrum of Bluefield, the tight end who also played on special teams.
Holliday also thinks Cabell Midland's Cody Carter, listed as a wide receiver, will get on the field.
"I think a lot of players in the state of West Virginia got big ol' hearts, but they're underdeveloped," Holliday said. "If you look at every one of those kids I mentioned, they didn't really come in here as really good players; they came in here, guys that love football that have big ol' hearts who were willing to work extremely hard to get where they are, and they've turned out to be really good."
Holliday expects a full squad, or close to it, for spring drills. He sounded optimistic about the return linebacker Kent Turene, who had knee surgery before the bowl game, and big offensive lineman Sandley Jean-Felix, who injured himself during a game-week practice last fall.
He gave much credit to his strength and conditioning coach, Scott Sinclair.
"I thought for the most part, knock on wood, we didn't have a lot of [lingering injuries]," Holliday said. "This time last year, it looked like a morgue down there [in the training room]. We had more shoulder surgeries, and half our team was in red [non-contact jerseys]."
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.