Brendan Galella, Times correspondent
Rising star Micheal McFarland
Spent the second half of the season at quarterback, but the 6-6, 220-pound junior has to compete with Eugene Davenport for the starting position. McFarland can shift to wide receiver or tight end and will team with Pride at defensive end.
Stunt man Todd Jackson Jr.
Guy who does the dirty work
The defensive line has plenty of speed with McFarland and Pride on the outside; Jackson will serve as the anchor in the middle. As the strongest player on the team, he also will open holes on the offensive line for the running backs.
Three things the Yellow Jackets need to avoid
1. Hesitancy. Blake lost its first eight games last season. The early-season struggles led to a tough season. With a quick start in '08, Washington feels this team has the ability to make some noise.
2. Offensive stalling. Inconsistency on offense has plagued this team for years, but the new offensive formation caters to the team's strengths.
3. Apathy. Five of the eight losses in 2007 were by 28 points or more. If the Yellow Jackets start slowly, they must find a way to stay motivated and keep every contest within reach.
"I think that Coach Washington is going to get those great athletes on the same page, and when that happens it's going to be a great season for them." — Plant coach Robert Weiner
The senior spent part of his summer at USF's football camp, working closely with another defensive lineman thought to be too small: George Selvie. The 6-5, 205-pound Pride led the Yellow Jackets in sacks and tackles last season, and now expects to play tight end and center along with his defensive duties.
Big-play ability by this junior wideout is a major factor in coach Sean Washington's decision to abandon the Wing-T offense for the spread in hopes of developing a potent passing attack.
Recovered from a broken ankle on the final play of the second game last season, this linebacker is called the defensive leader by his coach. Even with an extended stay on the sideline, he ranked third on the team in sacks.