Team preview: North Carolina

Editor's Note: ESPN Insider has teamed with Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook to provide a comprehensive look at the Division I-A teams. To order the complete 2008 edition of Blue Ribbon College Football Yearbook, visit www.blueribbonyearbook.com or call 1-866-805-BALL (2255).

(All information as of June 20, 2008)


Butch Davis faced down cancer and eight losses in his opening season at North Carolina.

Now he, his staff and their many returning players will try to tap into a year's experience under this coaching staff, and Davis' newfound energy, to win some more football games.

His health is good, and Davis appears more eager than ever to rebuild this program. The Tar Heels return 17 starters on offense and defense, in addition to having much more depth than last fall.

Some incoming freshmen will be expected to contribute, if only on special teams.

"I'm a big believer in position competition," Davis said. "I think if we're ever going to be the type of football program that we want to be, if we're going to be a team that's going to compete to go to bowl games, ACC championships and get into the BCS, we've got to have great position competition. We've got to have guys on our football team that are pushing people for starting jobs.

"I talked to our football team at the first team meeting of the second semester when they came back in January, and I told them there's going to be some guys that potentially could be very disappointed on opening day when we play this next season. Because some guys got an opportunity to start this past season, not necessarily because they earned the opportu-nity, just maybe out of default, because there was no other option.

"They were the guys that had to play. Hopefully the more we recruit, the more guys will buy into the program and get better."