If Florida State is going to have the kind of success predicted or expected of them, some key players will have to step up and either become leaders or resume their roles as veterans who the young guys can look up to.
Florida State is just two years removed from finishing 7-6; that was Bobby Bowden's last season at the helm. Jimbo Fisher took over last season and rejuvenated a team that was at the cusp of being passed by.
Fisher won 10 games in his first season as head coach and now has Florida State fans eager for more. An ACC Championship isn't out of the question, but Fisher and the 'Noles have lofty National Championship expectations.
In order for the Seminoles to accomplish these goals, these players will need to lead them.
Willie Haulstead showed flashes of greatness last season.
He finished the year with 38 receptions for 587 yards and six touchdowns, but he only had one game over 100 yards receiving; that was against North Carolina, when he hauled in 10 grabs for 154 yards and a touchdown.
If Haulstead can have that type of production on a weekly basis, Florida State will finally have a go-to receiver, and quarterback E.J. Manuel will have a safety valve.
Haulstead has the build and the speed to be a great receiver and hopefully in his second year of significant playing time, he will emerge into a playmaker; either way, Haulstead will need to step into the role of being the best receiver on the team.
Two years ago, LaMarcus Joyner was the top defensive back prospect in the country coming out of high school. Last season, Joyner played primarily in nickel and dime packages, but his talent was on full display.
Now, the 5'8'' sophomore safety has left the competition behind and will be a starter this season. Joyner has been praised publicly by coach Fisher for his physicality and his toughness. He may be small, but one this is for sure; he packs a punch.
Joyner will be relied on heavily to perform at a high level. The safeties last season weren't exactly reliable, and Joyner will have to be responsible to anchor this secondary.
With stars like Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes at corner, Joyner could help this secondary become one of the best in the country, but more importantly, Joyner is going to have to help in shutting down the likes of Ryan Broyles when the Sooners come to town on September 17th.
Joyner will only be a true sophomore, but he's already considered a leader on defense and will have to accept the role if this defense is going to be better than they were last year.
All JUCO transfer Jacob Fahrenkrug has to worry about is replacing either Rodney Hudson or Ryan McMahon—two of the best offensive linemen Florida State has ever seen.
The 6'4'', 315-pound Fahrenkrug has also drawn plenty of praise from the coaches for his work ethic and his knowledge of the game.
Fahrenkrug was a highly sought after recruit in the junior college ranks, and when Florida State landed him, they knew they were getting someone special.
Even though Andrew Datko will be the anchor of the line, Fahrenkrug will be depended on to make sure this unit gels together. If Fahrenkrug starts at center, he will need to make sure there is chemistry across the line and that they give Manuel enough to time to orchestrate the offense.
Even though this is Fahrenkrug's first year on campus, he's going to have to step up in a big way.
Brandon Jenkins had a monster year last season, and he's poised for another great year in 2011, but if that's going to happen, Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine will need to step up.
Jenkins is going to see plenty of double teams from opposing offensive lines and possibly triple teams, which is going to give Werner and Carradine one on one match-ups.
Werner has been progressing nicely and Carradine, like Fahrenkrug, is a highly touted JUCO transfer ready to make his impression on the Division-I world.
Both Werner and Carradine have great size and athleticism to make an immediate impact on the defense this year, but the reality is that it's essential for them to have success right out of the gate.
The defense' success depends heavily on the line—especially Jenkins. And in order for that success to happen, Werner and Carradine will have to step up and play key roles.
I know what you're thinking—the kicker? Even though the kicker isn't usually seen as a leader of the team or an impact player, Dustin Hopkins for Florida State has that role.
Let's take a trip down memory lane. Last season Hopkins missed a game winning field goal against North Carolina to lose the game; then he turned around and nailed a 55-yard game winning field goal against Clemson the following week.
Hopkins certainly isn't inconsistent, but he's going to need to be clutch in those kind of situations a lot this year. Florida State's schedule isn't a cake walk, and he might find himself in similar positions more than once this year.
If Florida State is in a position where they are undefeated and the game is on the line for Hopkins to win, he will have to come up big—no exceptions.
Hopkins is one of the best kickers in the country, and there's no doubting his ability, but if this season is going to be special for the 'Noles, he's going to be playing a large part.
Nigel Bradham is the leader of the defense.
The senior has led the Seminoles in tackles the past two seasons and has been a mainstay in the defense all three years. He's a very physically gifted athlete and has been given high praise from defensive coordinator Mark Stoops, but now Bradham is the veteran, and he will have two new starters next to him.
Christian Jones and Vince Williams will round out the linebackers unit and both are anticipated to step in and produce right away, especially Jones, but Bradham will be the one counted on to be consistent every single week.
Bradham also has NFL aspirations on the line. He's got all of the physical tools and is a high character type of player, which translates onto the field, but he's a leader now and will have to lead this defense to greater heights than last year. If he can do that, the sky is the limit for this very talented defensive unit.
Expect Bradham to handle to the expectations and to have another great season.