The Florida State Seminoles come in at No. 6 in the BCS preseason rankings. Coming off a 2010 season with a record of 10-4 and a win over South Carolina in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, the No. 6 Seminoles look to be in a hunt for a berth to another Bowl game, if not the BCS National Championship.
They will enter this campaign with a many solid players on both sides of the ball and an impressive defensive squad.
They shouldn't have any problem competing with the other teams in the ACC and will be able to maintain a solid ranking throughout the season.
While team unity and chemistry on both sides of the ball is what makes this team as good as they are, there are several standout players that will be key for a solid season in 2011.
Here are 10 players key this year.
The junior middle linebacker has done an excellent job growing into a leader as he takes over the middle of the defense.
Williams will come into 2011 looking to follow up a solid year in 2010, after receiving his first starts because of lingering injuries.
Williams has good awareness and is a powerful presence on defense. Look for him to have a big role in 2011, and to be a leader on defense.
Consistency from the MLB will be key for the Seminoles defense.
Right now, Ty Jones is not the starting running back, but that could change soon.
Current starter Chris Thompson has a lingering back injury that could not only keep him from playing in the season opener, but from playing this season all together.
If Thompson is unable to play, my money is on Jones to get the bulk of the carries.
The senior will have to step up, but I think RB Ty Jones will be a key contributor in 2011.
I know that you're going to think I'm taking the easy way out by naming the kicker, but Hopkins really is important to his team.
The junior accounted for 119 points in 2010 and was automatic within 40 yards. His extra point percentage was perfect and hit 78.6 percent of all his field-goal attempts.
When a gut is responsible for that kind of production, it's hard to say that he isn't a key player for his team. Look for Dustin Hopkins to come up big in 2011.
Brandon Jenkins had an outstanding sophomore season that ended with a nomination to the All-ACC team.
Jenkins speed off the ball has not only made him one of the best players on Florida State's defense, but has also made him one of the elite pass rushers in all of college football.
As the junior grows into his size a little more, his production has nowhere to go but up.
Look for Jenkins to become one of the Seminoles' leaders on defense as well as one of the team's most key of players. With a solid campaign in 2011, we could see Jenkins as a high round pick in the 2012 NFL draft.
Going into 2011, the Seminoles boast one of the best cornerback tandems in all of college football.
After an excellent freshman season, Xavier Rhodes is coming into 2011 with the chance to not only be the team's best defensive back, but the team's best defensive player.
Rhodes was, as a freshman, one of 82 candidates named in contention for the Nagurski Trophy for most outstanding defensive player.
Rhodes and fellow corner Greg Reid will be immensely important to the Seminoles defense in 2011. If the two are able to lock down opposing receivers, Florida State's linebackers can get to the quarterback just like they were able to to in 2010.
As I've already mentioned, Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes will both play immensely important roles in 2011. The two corners make up arguably the best tandem in all of college football, but I think Reid is the more important of the two.
The junior is not only one of the better players on the Seminoles defense, but also has a lot of responsibility on special teams as well.
Reid will take over the duties of returning both punts and kicks in addition to his regular workload at CB.
Look for Reid to be one of the Seminoles most important players in 2011. If he and Rhodes are able to live up to their hype, the Seminoles will come up big this season.
Nick Moody will resume his role as the starting strong safety in 2011 after coming off a minor injury.
Moody showed in 2010 that he can play very well in the box and is a dominant, physical presence on defense.
In combination with the tandem at corner that I am obviously so high on, Moody will help to establish the Seminoles as one of the best defenses against the pass.
The junior will have to fight off senior Terrance Parks to maintain his starting job, but a little healthy competition will only help Moody's game. Plus, Parks is converted corner who was moved to safety because of his size and really to make up for Moody's injury.
Look for this defensive stud to come up big in 2011.
Behind the quarterback, the left tackle is the most important play on offense.
In a team with a new starting QB, the LT is even more key for winning football games. Without the experience with play-calling, a team is at a huge disadvantage if they can't keep their QB upright.
Because Andrew Datko is a senior, his experience and leadership will be huge for the Seminoles offensive line. Look for him to be a key player in Florida State's 2011 campaign.
Although traditionally not seen as equally important, Florida State's right tackle will be a key player in 2011.
Zebrie Sanders is one of college football's more dominant RTs, and is another leader on the offensive line. Sanders has the most starts of anybody currently wearing a Seminoles uniform, his leadership will not only be felt by the other offensive linemen, but by the entire locker room.
Filling Christian Ponder's shoes probably won't be too difficult of a feat, but a vital one nonetheless.
EJ Manuel isn't necessarily a fresh face on the Seminoles offense, but seeing him in a leadership position will be a fresh take for the program.
As a freshman, Manuel started in the Gator Bowl for an injured Ponder. Manuel led the Seminoles to a 33-21 victory over the Florida Gators and was awarded MVP honors for the game.
As a sophomore, Manuel filled in for Ponder once again for two games and once again led the Seminoles to victory in the Chick-fli-A Bowl over South Carolina.
Manuel has shown that he can win in big games, leaving the Seminoles with a solid option at QB going into 2011.
It's obvious that the starting QB would be a key player, but it's important to remember exactly how key Manuel will be to this No. 6 Seminoles squad.
I think this Seminoles team has a lot of quality players worth mentioning.
The amount of talent on this team tells me that Florida State is ready to do big things.
Please feel free to let me know if I missed any key guys you thought aught to be mentioned in this article.
I hope you've enjoyed, and thanks for reading.
You can follow me on Twitter @MCNick92