The 2013 ESPYS are set to air tonight at 6 p.m. PT on ESPN and, for the first time since 2011, there will be a Seahawk nominated for an award.
Russell Wilson, who was the only rookie quarterback to win a playoff game last season, will go up against four other young superstars in the Best Breakthrough Athlete category.
Wilson may have been the biggest steal in the 2012 NFL Draft. Taken with the 75th overall pick in the third round, he started every game for the Seahawks and threw at least one touchdown pass in fourteen of the sixteen games he played in. The 24-year-old led the Seahawks to an 11-5 record including five straight wins to finish off the regular season. From there, he led Seattle to a 24-14 road victory over Robert Griffin III and the Redskins in the NFC Wild Card game.
The following week resulted in a tough loss for Seattle in Atlanta, as the Seahawks came back from a 20-0 deficit to take a 28-27 lead that they would ultimately relinquish with seconds left on the clock. Nevertheless, Wilson hushed critics by putting up memorable numbers in his rookie season.
In 2012, Wilson threw for 3,118 yards with a 100.0 QBR and added 489 rushing yards to go with four rushing touchdowns. His 26 passing TDs tied Peyton Manning’s rookie record set in 1998. Furthermore, the Wisconsin product showed an incredible display of accuracy by completing 64.1% of his passes while throwing just ten interceptions. The fact that he threw 16 more touchdowns than interceptions was the best by a rookie in NFL history.
To win the 2013 ESPY Award for Best Breakthrough Athlete, Wilson will face some tough competition, including a very familiar foe.
Colin Kaepernick is also nominated in the category. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback didn’t take over the starting job until Week 11 but he led his team all the way to the Super Bowl, where the team was ultimately defeated by the Baltimore Ravens. In the regular season, Kaepernick completed 62.4% of his passes for 1,814 yards en route to ten touchdowns through the air and just three interceptions. He also rushed for 415 yards and five touchdowns.
The final three nominees in the category are Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig and Mike Trout from the Angels.
Manziel used last season to become the first freshman in FBS history to win the Heisman Trophy. “Johnny Football” was also just the fifth player ever to combine 3,000 passing yards with 1,000 rushing yards in the same season.
Puig burst onto the Major League platform on June 3 and has since posted a .391 batting average with eight home runs and 19 RBIs in just 38 games. In his first 15 games, the 22-year-old recorded 27 hits, the second most in that span all-time. Those same games saw him hit .474 with five long balls and 11 RBIs.
Trout earned AL Rookie of the Year honors last season by putting up some of the best numbers the baseball has ever seen. He was the first player in MLB history with at least 30 home runs, 45 steals and 125 runs scored in the same season. He also finished second in the AL with a .326 batting average.
We will find out tonight if Wilson can add an ESPY to his repertoire before Training Camp starts on July 25, the prelude to one of the most anticipated seasons in recent Seahawks memory.