The Oregon Ducks have the talent, experience and depth it takes to be the best team in the country, but whether they end up with that title will depend largely on the emergence of team leaders.
Last year's group lost Kenjon Barner on offense and guys like Michael Clay, Kiko Alonso and John Boyett on defense. All four of those players displayed the kind of leadership it takes to not only help the team prepare each week but to aid in the development of young players as well.
Now it's those young players who must step up.
There are two kinds of leaders in football. The first is the guy who leads by example. He's the first to show up to practice, the last to leave and gives his full effort whether it's the 7th rep in a technique drill or a big 3rd down late in a bowl game. He's the kind of guy who other players try to emulate but doesn't need to say much to lead his team.
The second is the guy who has a vocal presence wherever he goes. He'll have guys fired up for Tuesday practice and be the first one out of the tunnel, pumping up the crowd, ready to get on the field and clean somebody's clock.
The best kind of leader is somebody who embodies both of these qualities, someone who can make a huge difference just by showing others what kind of effort it takes to get better each day but who also knows when to step in with words of advice or encouragement.
Here are the five most important team leaders for the Oregon Ducks in 2013