"What I look at first and foremost is their athletic ability," Coach Holliday said. "The first thing I need to do is to get them to conform to that athletic ability. You know, not every player will have the same athletic capability, so you have to approach each player differently.
"The second thing I look for is going back to technique and what do we need to work on. I'm a great believer in that if you put in a lot of effort and hard work, you can overcome a lot of things. I have a skill set that I want each of them to have and perfect, and then we'll know more later because they've been working out all summer.
"You know, they've been doing that on their own, and then they're going to show up for fall camp and I'm going to tear all that up because I'm expecting them to be ahead of where they were in the spring. Then at the end of fall camp we're going to reassess that so we can get better during the season. It's a constant work in progress."
After a very productive spring camp, Coach Holliday has a lot of development to add upon and work with as he continues his efforts to bring out the best within his players once fall camp arrives. With the relentless speed of the offense, he is looking to have a specific number of players to be able to go.
"I'm thinking if we can get six guys we're good," Holliday said. "That's my goal. We're going to be running more plays so we need more players, so as a recruit I'm going man, ‘Man, as a freshman I could go to college and play 40 snaps and maybe catch 20-to-25 balls.' Man, are you kidding me? If you want to play in the NFL you gotta play. You can be the second greatest player behind the best player and not play, and I've never known a player to go to the NFL that got drafted from the sidelines."
When considering who would be the top six receivers in the rotation, one has to first look at BYU's number-one receiver in 6-foot-4-inch, 215-pound senior Cody Hoffman. Hoffman sat out spring camp after having offseason surgery.
"Obviously for me, I'm excited to finally see Cody finally get on the field and how he responds and really challenging him and help him be better than he's ever been," said Coach Holliday.
Seeing how Hoffman responds to Coach Holliday's demanding drill-sergeant style of coaching will be fun to watch. Could he be one of those receivers with NFL potential that Coach Holliday spoke about?
"I've been fortunate enough to coach a lot of talent in this industry," said Holliday. "It's all going to depend on his work ethic because talent will only get you so far. In the end you have to put in more time and effort than anybody else. What I've seen from him is he's willing to do that. I'm looking forward to coaching him, and I'll tell you this, if he doesn't make it to the NFL it won't be because he wasn't pushed. We're going to put everything in to make him the best player possible."
Behind Hoffman is 6-foot-6-inch, 213-pound Mitch Mathews, who impressed Coach Holliday over the course of spring camp.
"Then Mitch Mathews, I'm telling you, this guy is as athletic and as explosive of a person," said Holliday. "I mean, everybody needs to go on Youtube and take a look at Mitch Mathews' dunks in a dunk contest. It's unbelievable. But you talk about his spring when you talk about someone coming out of the woodwork. He came out and jumped on us."
Skyler Ridley received limited time last season, catching 20 passes. He'll be playing on the opposite side of Hoffman at the z-receiver position, and was named the starter over Ross Apo following spring camp.
"I'm excited and I think Skyler Ridley has just been consistent," said Coach Holliday. "I would take Skyler Ridley because you need a guy that you can count on to do the right thing. You know, when the chips are down, man, you know that a guy like that will be there."
The question on everyone's mind is whether this is a move to motivate Apo to rise up to the challenge, or if Ridley is indeed a better receiver at this point in time. Fall camp should sort that all out. Coach Holliday is excited to see how his 6-foot-3-inch, 207-pound junior will respond to falling on the depth chart.
"I don't worry about anybody else's expectations," Holliday said. "I worry about my expectations, and I think Ross has a chance to be a really good football player, a great football player. In time, I think people will be surprised.
"I'm really excited about Ross Apo. I think he's made tremendous strides. He's super athletic. My point with him is to really get his confidence going. I think his whole career here he's struggled a little bit, and that's okay because we all mature at different stages. The best thing about last year – whether you're successful or not – is it's over and there's a new challenge today."
Also on the outside will be 6-foot-4-inch, 236-pound former tight end Marcus Mathews, who is more of a hybrid that can move back inside if needed.
"Then Marcus Mathews, he's bounced around a little bit," Coach Holliday said. "He's been progressing quite a bit and so I'm excited to see how he's going to do in the fall.
"Marcus is playing outside receiver. He used to play inside but he's moved to the outside receiver position, so he's kind of switched, but as an offense we're going to play the best receivers we have. Heck, if we have to put four receivers on the field, we're going to put four receivers on the field. We can put two receivers and two tight ends out there if that's the best combination of guys we have to make this offense the most effective. The duty of this offense in going fast and going hard is it gives you the flexibility of changing and still being successful."
When a slot receiver is called upon, J.D. Falslev will be the first to go in. Brett Thompson meanwhile has been moved to the inside as a tight end/slot receiver.
"I think the way we're dealing with that is Robert [Anae] is the coordinator and he's going to spend time with the offensive line, tight ends and inside receivers," Coach Holliday said. "But definitely with J.D., and those guys, I'll have some input. It's a collective deal. Right now I'm focused on getting the outside guys ready to play. The way this offense is structured, that could be a receiver, that could be a tight end or that could be a back. So, that's a really versatile position."
Other players that Coach Holliday feels are making a push – or that could make a push – to be included within the six-player rotation are sophomore Kurt Henderson and speedy incoming freshman Michael Davis.
"Kurt Henderson is going to give us added speed," Holliday said. "I'm excited about him, and he's maturing and developing. When you talk about a good person, that guy is the salt of the earth. I can sit him down anytime and we can have any conversation from [anything] about school to just life in general.
"Then Michael Davis, I mean, he runs a 10.6 100 meters. All I've got to do is get that guy running in a straight line and someone's gotta run after him. Even if he don't catch the ball, someone's got to chase him, and if he catches a couple, then you gotta send two."
Coach Holliday is confident that by the time the season rolls around he'll have his six guys toughened up, polished and ready to play.
"I'm thinking right now if we can get six guys, we're good," said Holliday. "There's no doubt in my mind that we'll get it, and if there's four, so be it. We're going to be tough enough. We want guys with hard edges, and then we want guys that can run. Then we want guys that bind, so, you know, a guy with a hard edge is a tough guy.
"I don't need a receiver who has to come out because his freakin' pinky is hurting. You know, I need a guy that can come out and play through some pain. That's what I'm looking for because you're no good if you're standing on the sidelines. You can have all the potential in the world because potential can get you by, but players make plays and the only way you can make plays is by playing. That's what we look for when we go out and identify. You know, I'm just looking forward to the upcoming season with the whole mantra of ‘go fast, go hard' and being here with Robert. Man, what more could you ask for as a coach?"