TALLAHASSEE -- College football teams take on the life of the players who fill their rosters. Those players often have varying roles, varying duties, varying obligations and varying ways of executing their individual jobs.
The successful teams and coaches know how to properly manage all of it, bringing the seeming mass of difference together in a perfectly harmonious manner. Success is defined by knowing just when to push, where to push and how hard to do it. It also can be achieved when teams and their coaches understand where they may have to pull back and when to do it.
Ultimately, it is the players who make it all run smoothly.
On college football rosters, there are role players, enforcers, superstars, emotional leaders, lead-by-example types, cheerleaders, utility players and steady hard workers. Each are important.
For the sake of this countdown, however, we're looking at five players Florida state can't go without this season. To make things interesting, the list will not include superstars. So yes, the Seminoles probably can't go without having Jameis Winston or Lamarcus Joyner contributing, but for the sake of this conversation, we're looking more at the stars who may not immediately jump to mind when you think about the upcoming year. And yes, to that end, there will be several players left off this countdown who most certainly are deserving candidates. Feel free to add your suggestions throughout the week.
Over the weekend, we recognized Terrence Brooks, Levonte "Kermit" Whitfield and Cason Beatty as three others the Seminoles can't go without this season.
And now, without further ado, here's the fourth player on the countdown:
OL BOBBY HART
When Hart first arrived at FSU two summers ago, he was 16 years old. Long a star in the trenches on the teams he played for growing up, the young lineman had no real previous understanding of what individual failure on the field was. He had always been good, always been big and always knew he'd have a chance to play wherever it was that he went to college.
So once he was thrown into the Seminoles' starting lineup as a true freshman and even asked to block Notre Dame's stout 3-4 defense in the Champs Sports Bowl that year, Hart had believed he had arrived. Injuries had forced him into the rotation. Many of those who had been injured were graduating, though, so his young mind had reasoned that starting at right tackle would be easy for the rest of the time he was in Tallahassee.
He decided to pull back. He wasn't going to push quite as hard for a starting job anymore, he reasoned.
The tactic couldn't have been more wrong.
Hart was summarily passed on the Seminoles' depth chart last season after former defensive tackle Cameron Erving was moved over to the offensive line, and one-year transfers Menelik Watson and Daniel Glauser arrived. Erving didn't just play well after the switch, either. He excelled. Watson also was only in his second year of playing organized football, but he showed such promising signs that he was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in April.
One year after starting nine games, Hart appeared in just eight as a sophomore in backup duty, mostly playing at guard.
The message was received loud and clear. This spring, as he became a junior, the 18-year-old had been humbled. With one highly-rated freshman lineman getting ready to enroll, and a real gap at right tackle, he understood that he had an opportunity to make the position his and to not let anyone take it from him.
Throughout the spring practice season, whenever coach Jimbo Fisher spoke about his offensive line, he gave indications that Hart was jumping out at he and his assistants. He didn't appear sluggish. He was actually playing harder than he had at times last fall. He started looking like the type of player they would feel comfortable protecting with the starting line unit.
So, they gave him chances. Alternating snaps at starting right tackle with center Bryan Stork, Hart was right in the mix at the position he began his college career playing. Later this summer, when FSU begins its preseason camp, there's a strong chance that Hart will be taking the first-team reps at right tackle unless someone unseats him.
Because of the real dearth of offensive linemen, particularly offensive tackles, Hart becomes a key component for the Seminoles. His apparently renewed focus and direction -- which he credits to playing for a season behind the older, more mature Watson -- also makes him one player they could not do without this season.
If Hart has indeed turned the corner of maturity that he may have originally lacked simply because of his age, then one has to believe that he has come around for good, and that he'll soon embrace having the impact on a younger teammates' life that Watson had on his. If that happens across the next two years, Hart's value to the program certainly would be noted. As the Seminoles begin recruiting more offensive linemen across their next recruiting class, that potential for leadership could have more impact than what Hart will do on the football field. But only time will tell to see if that happens.
Check back Tuesday when we unveil the fifth and final player FSU can't go without this season.