With Monday's deadline for declaring for the 2016 NFL Draft in the past, we now know what teams across the country will look like next season, 2016 recruits excluded as they have a few weeks before National Signing Day. In Tallahassee, it has been acknowledged for awhile that junior defensive back Jalen Ramsey would be forgoing his senior season to begin his professional career. Junior kicker Roberto Aguayo also announced his intention to declare for the 2016 Draft.
However, Florida State was able to retain junior defensive end DeMarcus Walker and cornerback Marquez White, both of whom turned down the opportunity to go pro early in order to play one more year at FSU and improve their draft stock.
In all, Florida State returns all 11 offensive starters from the 2015 team and 5 defensive starters from the Peach Bowl starting lineup (6 if you include Trey Marshall, who missed the final 6 games of the season after injuring his bicep against Louisville). For some perspective, Florida State also returned 17 starters for the 2014 season.
But how did Florida State's 2016 opponents fare when it came time for their third-year players to decide if they wanted to return for their senior season? Here's a look:
Florida State opens the 2016 season against Ole Miss in a neutral-site game at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando and, luckily for the Seminoles, the Rebels will have to do it without a trio of spectacular underclassmen who all declared after the 2015 season. Defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil, and wide receiver Laquon Treadwell, all projected to be first-round picks, decided to leave school early in pursuit of professional careers.
However, Ole Miss was able to retain their signal caller, Chad Kelly, for his senior season after Kelly racked up 4,042 passing yards along with an impressive 31 touchdowns in his junior campaign.
As a team, Ole Miss returns nine starters (4 offense, 5 defense) from their 2015 roster in what could be a rebuilding year akin to the one that Florida State went through this past year.
The Florida Gators, who will travel to Tallahassee to take on Florida State on Thanksgiving weekend as they do every year, will have numerous depth chart holes that need to be filled after five Gators declared early for the draft, three of which are on the defensive side of the ball. Running back Kelvin Taylor, wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, defensive end Alex McCalister, and safety Keanu Neal all made the decision to forgo a year of eligibility and declare for the draft.
Additionally, the Gators saw quarterback Will Grier and linebacker Jeremi Powell announce that they were leaving the program and transferring. It wasn't all bad news for UF though as linebacker Jarrad Davis and defensive tackle Caleb Brantley turned down the possibility of going pro this year for another year with the Gators.
In 2016, Florida will return 11 starters (6 offense, 5 defense) but will also be looking for a new option at quarterback with Grier out of the picture.
It wasn't the worst case scenario for Tigers but it wasn't far off either as six Clemson defenders declared early for the draft. A pair of defensive ends, Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd, and four members of the secondary, cornerback Mackenzie Alexander and safeties Travis Blanks, T.J. Green, and Jayron Kearse all decided to leave school early after the Tigers' narrow loss to Alabama in the College Football Playoff National Championship.
What keeps it from being their worst case scenario is that Clemson was able to hang onto running back Wayne Gallman, tight end Jordan Leggett, wide receiver Mike Williams, who suffered a severe neck injury in CU's first game of the season against Wofford, and defensive tackle Carlos Watkins, all of whom decided to return for one more season.
For Clemson in 2016, it will really be a tale of the two sides of the ball as the Tigers will bring back eight starters from last year's potent offense. Defense, however, will be Clemson's challenge as only three defensive starters return to next year's team.
The Hurricanes were fairly lucky with their players' decisions of whether or not to declare early. They did lose cornerback Artie Burns but were able to retain wide receiver Stacy Coley, cornerback Corn Elder, and linebacker Al-Quadin Muhammad for another season.
In all, Miami returns 16 starters (9 offense, 7 defense) for the 2016 season, a promising trend for Mark Richt's first year.
Louisville is one of the rare schools where all draft-eligible underclassmen have decided to return to the school for another season. Linebackers Devonte Fields and Keith Kelsey as well as defensive backs Josh Harvey-Clemons and Shaq Wiggins will all be on the 2016 Louisville roster after deciding against declaring for the draft.
However, it wasn't all good news for the Cardinals as a pair of linebackers, Keith Brown and Nick Dawson-Brents, announced this week that they would be transferring from UL for their senior seasons.
Louisville will start their 2016 season with 16 starters from the 2015 squad (9 offense, 7 defense) as they look to factor into the Atlantic Division race for the first time in their short ACC membership.
The Wolfpack had only one player declare for the draft early, junior tight end David Grinnage. As a team, NC State brings back 14 starters on next year's team (6 offense, 8 defense).
Like NC State, Syracuse lost a single player to an early declaration for the draft, All-ACC defensive lineman Ron Thompson. Despite the loss, the Orange return 17 starters in 2016 (8 offense, 9 defense) for new head coach Dino Babers' first year.
The other teams on Florida State's 2016 schedule (USF, Boston College, UNC, Wake Forest, and FCS opponent Charleston Southern) had no players declare for the draft early. USF starts 2016 with 13 starters (7 offense, 6 defense) from their 2015 team that saw an emergence as a legitimate AAC contender. Boston College will bring back 14 of their 2015 starters (6 offense, 8 defense) while fellow ACC Atlantic foe Wake Forest returns 17 2015 starters (9 offense, 8 defense). UNC will have 15 starters back (7 offense, 8 defense) from their 2015 Coastal-Division championship-winning team when they travel to Tallahassee next season.
All in all, Florida State returns 17 starters next year, more than any other rival or legitimate contender on FSU's schedule. With that in mind, the upcoming season looks very promising for a Seminoles team that returns their entire offense and many key parts of their impressive defense from last season.