TALLAHASSEE -- Between conversations with their younger teammates and discussions with you guys, the fans, it became quite clear that the veterans on Florida State's 2012 team were a beloved bunch. Often the group of fourth- and fifth-year seniors spoke about how they wanted to change the culture of winning at FSU, and how they wanted to breed success.

With an ACC championship and a BCS bowl victory last fall, their mission was accomplished.

A case could be made that those wins were a direct product of the coaching and guidance that went on inside the locker room. A measure of focus was instilled in last season's team (some players are quick to add the veterans from the 2010 and 2011 teams had something to do with that) that hadn't been seen so consistently at FSU in about a half-dozen years.

Players like EJ Manuel, Dustin Hopkins, Lonnie Pryor, Chris Thompson, Brandon Jenkins, Rodney Smith, Vince Williams, Nick Moody, Everett Dawkins, Anthony McCloud and even juniors Xavier Rhodes and Bjoern Werner were respected by their peers and heralded by their supporters. Beleagured cornerback Greg Reid, kicked off the team last preseason, was one of those players, too.

Now, they are all gone. Off to life beyond college football, where they are each attempting to provide for themselves and their families as professional athletes.

So who, then, are FSU's stars and leaders of tomorrow?

Who will be the ones picking up the mantle where the aforementioned left off? Who will be the player fans will be proud to praise and teammates will be honored to pick up? Who will be the faces of a program that appears to have finally turned that corner and rid itself of the mediocrity that defined much of the last decade?

At this point, only time will tell.

On the overall, the Seminoles will be a comparably young team in 2013.

After featuring one senior in its primary rotation last season (Daniel Glauser), the offensive line will only have one again this year (center Bryan Stork). Instead of having two seniors in the backfield, FSU will only have one this year in fullback Chad Abram. Months after a fifth-year player called out plays and managed their offense, the Seminoles will be handing the quarterbacking reigns to either a junior, a sophomore or one of two redshirt freshmen.

Defensively, seniors Christian Jones, Telvin Smith, Terrence Brooks and Lamarcus Joyner are expected to be key players. On the defensive line, however, a sophomore defensive end and a redshirt freshman end could end up being the stars next to a junior defensive tackle and another redshirt freshman.

In the kicking game, there won't be a player with more than one year of college experience under his belt.

At receiver, a totally different story will play out. A year after having just one senior, the Seminoles will have four. It is their deepest and most experienced position.

Of course, when you think about who some of the younger players are that are being hinted about above, and when you think about what you've heard or seen about them, you probably are actually getting rather enthusiastic about seeing them play. You should be. FSU certainly has recruited the type of talent recently that should get its fans excited about watching games. But also bear in mind, an important part of a winning program is team chemistry and leadership and direction and focus. Without it, we've seen even the most talented teams underperform. As the Seminoles move forward with six new assistant coaches, having players who won't be scared to be that bridge between their teammates and the staff will be that much more important.

So the point bears repeating: who then are FSU's stars and leaders of tomorrow?

The spring practice season is one time for those individuals to begin stepping up and taking over if they haven't already done so. Helping organize summertime workouts will be part of that process, as will performance in preseason sessions. By the end of August, those leaders should be clear and distinguishable.

In the meantime, here are a couple of names to consider as we inch closer to spring ball, which begins March 20:

---We've already mentioned Jones, Smith, Brooks and Joyner as key players on defense. Each already played modified leadership roles as juniors last season. Jones' and Brooks' play spoke for itself. Smith and Joyner could motivate with words in addition to their action.

---On the defensive line, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan will probably have to begin shifting his thought process from being the young defender amid a sea of veterans, to being the veteran surrounded by younger teammates. After looking up to Dawkins and McCloud the last two seasons, Jernigan (along with senior Jacobbi McDaniel, who is returning from an ankle injury suffered in 2011) now is the one who has some mentoring to do. Redshirt freshmen Eddie Goldman and Justin Shanks in particular are among the young tackles who will look his direction for guidance on the line.

One year after having three veterans to look up to at the defensive end positions, the Seminoles playing there will have to become instant leaders themselves. Sophomores Mario Edwards Jr. and Giorgio Newberry will be part of an end unit that also is expected to showcase the talents of redshirt freshman Chris Casher.