TSN.ca's writing staff has decided to close out 2012 with a list of the 10 athletes who leapt to the forefront over the past 12 months.
Many names came into consideration, including Washington phenom Bryce Harper, Atletico Madrid powerhouse Radamel Falcao, Olympic golden girl Rosie MacLennan, UFC standout Ronda Rousey, and Heisman winner Johnny Manziel.
However, at the end of the year, the following 10 topped our list.
10. Anthony Davis –He won an NCAA championship with Kentucky as a freshman, becoming the consensus first overall pick at the 2012 NBA Draft. He would also win gold with the USA at the London Olympics and trademark the saying “Fear The Brow”.
9. Melissa Tancredi – Though she was outshone by her bronze medal teammate Christine Sinclair her four goals would be good enough for a tie for third in tournament scoring. She accounted for one third of all the goals Canada scored in the tournament.
8. Chad Kackert – The Argos sophomore running back filled a huge void when the team parted ways with Cory Boyd in August. The increased playing time would lead to increased production as Kackert ran his way to the Grey Cup MVP Award.
7. J.J. Watt – The second-year defensive end was a large part of the Houston Texans' AFC South Championship season. The former Badger led the NFL in sacks with 20.5 this season.
6. Jonathan Quick – He set career marks in shutouts, goals-against average and save percentage to earn a Vezina Trophy nomination. He saved his best for the playoffs, earning the Conn Smythe Trophy in the Kings' Stanley Cup run.
5. Andy Murray – He entered the year behind the vaunted “big three” of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal but would come up big on home soil. He followed a heartbreaking Wimbledon final with Olympic gold and capped it with a US Open title.
4. Russell Wilson – With so much focus on Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, Wilson (a third-rounder) quietly led the Seattle Seahawks to an 11-5 record and a spot in the playoffs. His 26 TD passes was tops among rookie quarterbacks in 2012.
3. Ryder Hesjedal – His landmark Giro d'Italia win helped put cycling back in the minds of Canadian sports fans, promoting renewed interest in the Tour de France and Olympic cycling. He would win the Lionel Conacher Award as Canada's top male athlete.
2. Jeremy Lin – He took NYC by storm and helped turn the Knicks back into a contender. He was everywhere in February. Then he got hurt. Then he signed in Houston. Still… Linsanity!
1. Mike Trout – He came up at the end of April and had one of the greatest rookie seasons in recent memory. It took a Triple Crown to keep him from winning the American League MVP. Not bad for a 21-year-old.