20 Athletes with Surprisingly Good Seasons in 2012

1 of 21

Athletes that came out-of-nowhere during 2012

Rob Grabowski- USA Today

Some athletes just decide to come out-of-nowhere at unexpected times. Many of them were good in the past but previously just couldn’t put the pieces together to make them great. The 20 athletes on this list finally broke out of their shells during 2012 to become some of the greatest players of all time.

With the NFL being rookie-dominated this season, you can bet that they are on the list. This year’s rookies should inspire high school and college football players because they have proved that you dreams can come true and you can prove yourself great in a short amount of time.

One sport you don’t find people breaking records in is NBA basketball. Athletes seem to show-off rather than presenting their true talent. There is one star on the list that shocked the nation but it was just too hard to find another stand out player from 2012.

Some might say that LeBron James deserved a spot on the list, however we knew he was going to be a great player from the start so it wasn’t really a shock that he won the MVP. It just took him a couple of years and some fellow teammates to improve his game to get him the championship title.

But let’s forget about who didn’t make my list and focus on the athletes who did make the cut. They are all outstanding and we will most definitely see their names in the future. I tried to rank them to see who deserved the top-spot on the list but it was just too hard to decide who shocked America the most.


2 of 21

Jeremy Lin

Source: Anthony Gruppuso- USA Today

I’m not saying that he led his team the entire season, but considering this Harvard graduate wasn’t even drafted into the NBA, he legitimately shocked America. Out of nowhere, Lin found himself as a starter and led the New York Knicks to a seven game winning streak causing the “Linsanity” phase across the nation.

3 of 21

Missy Franklin

Source: Richard Mackson- USA Today

Since swimming events aren’t televised as often as mainstream sports such as football and basketball, Franklin surprised America with her Olympic wins. At the age of 16, she ended the 2012 London Olympics with four gold medals, one bronze medal and even a world record. It will be fun to watch her in the 2016 Olympics at Rio de Janeiro and see if she can improve her medal count.

4 of 21

Oscar Pistorius

Source: Paul Cunningham- USA Today

Pistorius may not have won a medal at the 2012 London Olympics but he became the first double amputee to run in the able-bodied division. He did win during the Paralympics, however the fact that he got to compete in the actual Olympics shocked the world.

5 of 21

J.J. Watt

Source: Troy Taormina- USA Today

Watt is one of the best defensive players in the NFL and a true game changer for the Houston Texans. Watt first demonstrated his ability during the playoffs back in January but has clearly proved himself a top candidate for the NFL Defensive Player of the Year award.

6 of 21

Adrian Peterson

Source: Brace Hemmelgarn- USA Today

Coming off ACL surgery, expectations for Peterson were not very high this season. However, he proved everyone wrong and led the Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs after beating the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears. Without him the Vikings could have easily faced a losing season.

7 of 21

R.A. Dickey

Source: Steve Mitchell- USA Today

Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey was one of the best players in MLB this season and even won the Cy Young award. Over an eight-start stretch from May to June he was 7-0 with an 0.86 ERA and .139 opponent batting average. Some say that he is a one-year wonder but we won't find out until next season begins.

8 of 21

Ryan Lochte

Source: Rob Schumacher- USA Today

Olympian Ryan Lochte didn't completely come out-of-nowhere at the 2012 London Olympics considering he also also received medals in Athens and Beijing. But with Michael Phelps announcing his retirement, Lochte finally got his time to shine.

9 of 21

Bruce Irvin

Source: Steven Bisig- USA Today

At the age of 25, Irvin is not a young rookie but he has worked his way up to the starting position for the Seattle Seahawks. He had some personal problems in the past but is now rising to be one of the best players in the NFL.

10 of 21

Andrew Luck

Source: Thomas Campbell- USA Today

It's been quite the year for rookie quarterbacks in the NFL. He led the Colts to a surprising 11-6 record and the record of most passing yards for a rookie.

11 of 21

Andrew McCutchen

Source: Charles LeClaire- USA Today

McCutchen's stats increased across the boards including his batting average which jumped from .259 in 2011 to .327 in 2012. He finally gave Pittsburg Pirates fans something to cheer about.

12 of 21

DeAndre Hopkins

Source: Greg Cooper- USA Today

Hopkins had two good season to start off his football career with Clemson but his third year was simply outstanding. He racked up over 1,200 receiving yards, averaging 17.6 yards per catch, and has scored 16 touchdowns. He will definitely be a player to watch out for in 2013.

13 of 21

Mike Trout

Source: Jim Cowsert- USA Today

It's hard to have a great rookie year in baseball but that's exactly what Trout did. He ended the season with a .326 batting average, 83 RBI, 30 home runs, an all star selection and he even led the AL in runs scored and stolen bases.

14 of 21

Russell Wilson

Source: Brad Mills- USA Today

Being a late draft pick, Wilson wasn't exactly expected to be a top-ranked quarterback. But Wilson proved everyone wrong during the pre-season and earned himself a starting position on the team. He even broke the record for most rookie touchdown passes.

15 of 21

Manti Te'o

Source: Steve Mitchell- USA Today

Te'o has always been a good player but 2012 was his time to shine. After losing his girlfriend and grandmother in two separate incidents, it was unsure how well he would play this season. But Te'o proved everyone wrong and became a candidate for the Heisman trophy as he led his team to an undefeated schedule during the regular season.

16 of 21

Johnny Manziel

Source: Thomas Campbell- USA Today

Not only did he become the first freshman to win the Heisman trophy, but Manziel literally came out-of-nowhere. The Texas A&M Aggies were coming off of a 2011-2012 record of 7-6. Manziel came along this year and led the team to a 12-2 record, including a win against Alabama.

17 of 21

Jonathan Quick

Source: Jayne Kamin Oncea- USA Today

Quick was known as a good hockey player in the past but 2012 was his year to shine. He recorded 10 shutouts, 35 wins and a .929 save percentage.

18 of 21

Webb Simpson

Source: Brian Spurlock- USA Today

He joined the PGA at the young age of 22 in 2010 and didn't exactly have a great start. He won two tournaments in 201 but proved he deserved a spot on the tour by winning the 2012 U.S. Open.

19 of 21

Robert Griffin III

Source: Daniel Shirley- USA Today

Quarterbacks don't always succeed at rushing but that wasn't the case for RG3. He led the Washington Redskins to the playoffs and broke the record for most rushing yards by a rookie. It's hard to tell if he will play next year due to a torn ACL and LCL in the playoffs but he will be one to watch for in 2014.

20 of 21

Ronda Rousey

Source: Greg Bartman- USA Today

If you're not familiar with the world of fighting you may not know Rousey. This year, she became the first female fighter to sign with the UFC and was featured in ESPN's Body Issue.

21 of 21

Peyton Manning

Source: Chris Humphries- USA Today

Between neck surgery, sitting out an entire season and changing teams, nobody expected Manning to step out and lead the Denver Broncos to the playoffs, let alone a 13-3 season. Manning potentially has the best NFL comeback of all time considering he was in a hospital bed just over a year ago. As of Saturday, Manning will be heading into the 20th post-season game of his career.

Check out the 20 hottest female athletes on Twitter in 2012.

Check out these 20 hot daughters from the sports world.

Don’t miss out on these 25 hot sports fan playmates.