MORGANTOWN - The question didn't seem to surprise Robert Gillespie at all, perhaps because he had considered it himself.
West Virginia's first-year running backs coach has worked four weeks now with a stable of young tailbacks, trying both to teach them the ins and outs of college football and to separate one or two from the rest. In the first area, the jury is still out and will remain so until the Mountaineers open their season Sunday against Marshall.
The second - attempting to discern who, from among three true freshmen and a sophomore, might be the best of the bunch - has been impossible. The competition between the four is as even as it could possibly be.
But put the two objectives together, and the as-yet-undetermined results, and it begs a rather simple question:
Are these four tailbacks all really, really good or are they simply competitive on perhaps a lesser level?
The answer isn't likely to come until West Virginia has played a game or two or three, but Gillespie has considered the possibility and tends to lean toward the positive.
"You don't know until you put them out there,'' Gillespie said. "But they've shown things against our defense, against our [No. 1 defense], that have obviously made us think that they can play. But we won't know until Sunday afternoon.''
Going into Sunday's game, the official depth chart lists January enrollee and spring star Vernard Roberts ahead of sophomore Trey Johnson, who is ahead of both of the highly acclaimed summer arrivals, Andrew Buie and Dustin Garrison.
But pay no attention to the depth chart. Roberts and Johnson are likely at the top because they were here in the spring and Buie and Garrison at the end because they weren't.
All four will get their chances on Sunday to show what they can do. Combined with fullbacks Matt Lindamood, Ricky Kovatch and Ryan Clarke, that's seven backs that will trot onto the field at one point or another.
"We're still intent on playing four running backs during the game,'' head coach Dana Holgorsen said, referring specifically to the tailbacks. "For the two different positions, it may be two fullbacks out there at times or three fullbacks at one time. Sometimes it may be three smaller guys in there. That's something we'll use to our advantage throughout the whole year.''