WHAT THEY RETURN: The skill positions will return plenty of talent for first-year quarterback starter E.J. Manuel. The Seminoles return three running backs that recorded at least 490 yards last season in Chris Thompson (845), Ty Jones (527) and Jermaine Thomas (490). All three scored at least five touchdowns, too. Fullback Lonnie Prior also returns for Florida State.
Only one of the top ten in receiving yards for the Seminoles last season is gone. Bert Reed returns after leading the team with 614 yards through the air. Willie Haulstead (587 yards/6 TDs) and Rodney Smith (448 yards/3 TDs) both have breakout potential this season. Tight end Beau Reliford (198 yards/1 TD) also returns.
Brandon Jenkins returns after leading the defense with 13.5 sacks and 21.5 tackles for loss last season. There is also plenty of depth on the interior of the defensive line. Jacobbi McDaniel, Everett Dawkins and Anthony McCloud return after seeing plenty of time last season.
Weak side linebacker Nigel Bradham will anchor the defense after leading it with 98 tackles last season. He also recorded five sacks last year.
WHAT THEY LOST: The biggest loss was quarterback Christian Ponder, who threw for 2,044 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. After his three-touchdown performance against Florida, he was a first round pick of the Minnesota Vikings.
Linebacker Kendall Smith was second on the team with 97 tackles last season, while linebacker Mister Alexander was an experienced player who provided depth. The Seminoles also lose Markus White, who was second on the team with eight sacks last season.
BREAKOUT PLAYER: This should be quarterback E.J. Manuel. He has had two years on campus to learn Jimbo Fisher's offense, and he looked more than capable of carrying the team in spot starts in the last two years when Ponder was injured.
Manuel has started six games in the last two seasons, leading the Seminoles to a 4-2 record in those games. Last season, Manuel went 65-for-93 (69.9%) while taking snaps under center. He brings athleticism to the quarterback position that Ponder had as well, allowing Manuel to tuck the ball and run with it if the pocket breaks down.
On defense, Christian Jones should burst onto the scene with consistent playing time. In limited playing time last season, Jones recorded three sacks, a pass breakup, two quarterback hurries and one fumble recovery. He is a well-rounded linebacker that should flourish with more playing time.
POSITION THAT NEEDS TO STEP UP: The offensive line needs to stay healthy and grow together quickly this season. Losing two four-year starters could cause issues, and that's not the best way to get a first-year starter at quarterback settled. The expected replacements, center Jacob Fahrenkrug and guard Bryan Stork, need to gel with the rest of the line for this group to succeed.
The defensive position that needs to step up is the linebackers. The Seminoles lost two starters, but there is still plenty of talent at linebacker. Christian Jones and Vince Williams are expected to slide in next to Nigel Bradham.