The nominees are in, and Russell Wilson is up for the Breakthrough Athlete of the Year after taking the Seattle Seahawks to the playoffs as a rookie. He goes up against San Francisco’s Colin Kaepernick who took the 49ers to the Super Bowl, Johnny “Football” Manziel of Texas A&M who was the first freshman to win the Heisman Trophy, as well as two Los Angeles Major League Baseball players in Yaseil Puig of the Dodgers and Mike Trout of the Angels.
Voting ends at the start of The ESPYS awards show on July 17 at 6 p.m. PT from Los Angeles.
Wilson led the Seahawks to the third-best record (11-5) in club history during the regular season and the franchise’s first road playoff victory since 1983. Individually, Wilson tied Peyton Manning’s 15-year-old NFL rookie record with 26 touchdown passes and then added three more in two playoff games. He also ran for more yards (489) than any QB in franchise history during the regular season and had another 127 rushing yards in the wild-card win over the Redskins and the two-point loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the divisional playoff game. He finished third in voting for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year behind the Redskins’ Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts, the quarterbacks who were the first two picks overall in last year’s draft.
The best aspect of Wilson’s game? He only seemed to get better as the season progressed – with the proof being provided by his four-TD pass game against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 16; the fourth-quarter and overtime drives of 97 and 80 yards that he led in a Week 13 win over the Bears in Chicago; his 92-yard, three-TD rushing effort against the Buffalo Bills in Week 15; and his season-best 136.3 passer rating in the regular-season finale against the St. Louis Rams.
In the playoffs, Wilson rallied the Seahawks from a 14-0 deficit to beat the Redskins, 24-14, and then directed three fourth-quarter TD drives – running for one score and passing for another – against the Falcons to give the Seahawks a 28-27 lead with 31 seconds to play.
And Wilson accomplished all this after sharing reps with Tarvaris Jackson and Matt Flynn through training camp and the preseason.