A-listers Jeremy Deering
At 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, Deering spent his sophomore season pounding out more than 700 yards and became a key part of the Falcons' offense. He should get plenty of opportunities to do that and more this season.
The junior gets his shot at the starting quarterback job. He'll run coach Hugh Dehnert's Spin offense, a variation of the Wing-T run out of the shotgun. Senior Adolfo Nivero also could see time at quarterback.
He will be a key element of the Falcons' rebuilding defense. At 5-foot-9 and 177 pounds, Herrera plays larger than his size and will at times be one of five linebackers Leto will put on the field.
Rising star Antwoun Howard
A 6-foot-1, 170-pound athlete, the Falcons' have a big target in Howard. Though not specifically a passing team, Dehnert said Howard's quickness and hands give the Falcons that option.
Stunt man Georges Jean Louis
Guy who does the dirty work
After being one of the team's leading tacklers last season, Jean Louis will be looking to do even more from his linebacker spot. At 5-foot-10, 210 pounds he is an outside linebacker with speed to get to the ballcarrier.
Three things the Falcons need to avoid
1. Penalties. Leto averaged 12 penalties a game last season. That kind of self-sabotage has to drop off dramatically for the Falcons to have success.
2. Lack of faith. A culture of losing has permeated the program. Since 2002, the Falcons are 10-50.
3. No identity. Part of Dehnert's overhaul program is finding something the Falcons can do well and stick to it. Leto ran the ball well at times last season and has the personnel to keep at it.
"They're working hard and hard work pays off. They're working just as hard as anybody and they're moving in the right direction. They've got coaches that care and are doing a great job. You've just got to give them a little time." — Blake coach Sean Washington
Rod Gipson, Times correspondent
Stadium: Falcon Stadium, 4409 W. Sligh Ave., Tampa Playoffs: 1991, 1993, 1998, 1999 Last appearance: Beat Lake Region 41-8; lost 28-0 to Auburndale
Coach: Hugh Dehnert (third season, 5-15) | Last season: 3-7 | Class: 4A, District 10 | Colors: Gold, red and white