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2012 II Awards: Newcomer of Year

Freshman first/third baseman Sam Travis (pictured above) was a near-unanimous pick as Inside Indiana's Newcomer of 2012.

As it comes to a close, 2012 continues to be a banner year (no predictive pun intended) for Indiana athletics. Its basketball and football programs are firmly on the rise; sports like baseball, track and field and cross country continue to thrive in good hands, and men’s soccer topped it all with an eighth national championship just weeks before the calendar turned to 2013.

Inside Indiana as a staff came together for an end-of-year summation, looking back at the athletics calendar that was, with particular criteria in mind. Settling on six categories — game, coach, newcomer, athlete, moment and achievement of the year — members of the II staff cast their votes, with an explanation of their reasoning.

All votes are considered equal, and there are no wrong answers. If you’d like to cast your own for consideration, by all means, we encourage you to do so.

So, without further ado, here are Inside Indiana’s picks for Newcomer of the Year, picks that ought to have IU baseball coach Tracy Smith smiling into 2013.

Ken’s pick

A number of new Hoosiers are deserving of this honor, and there really isn’t a wrong answer. That said, redshirt sophomore middle linebacker David Cooper hit the ground running for the Hoosier football team and gave IU some stability in the second level on the gridiron. He finished second on the team in tackles with 86, he made nine tackles for loss and posted three sacks. Cooper wasn’t enough to push the Hoosier defense to respectability, but he was one of the few bright spots for IU’s “D.”

Ken Bikoff is editor-in-chief of Inside Indiana.

Zach’s pick

Tracy Smith sure can find himself a power hitter, can’t he? Alex Dickerson followed Josh Phegley, both now thriving at varied levels of the minor leagues, and Sam Travis looks poised to join them eventually. Recipient of both the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year award and Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American honors, Travis’ resume after one college season reads impressively — second in the Big Ten in runs batted in, fourth in doubles, fifth in home runs, fifth in total bases and 10th in slugging percentage. Together with fellow sophomore Kyle Schwarber, Travis will strive to anchor perhaps the Big Ten’s most potent lineup in 2013.

(While we’re at it, we should point out that Schwarber basically qualifies as 1b to Travis’ 1a in this conversation. The rookie catcher was also a unanimous selection to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team, also a three-team conference Freshman of the Week honoree and also a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American. Together, the pair have the middle of Indiana’s order set for the foreseeable future.)

Zach Osterman is a staff writer for Inside Indiana and

Sean’s pick

**With the change of personnel at our contributor position midyear, we invited Sean back to cast his ballot as well. Both Alex and Sean have been integral to Inside Indiana and this year, and without them, our product would not meet the standards it now enjoys.

Cody Zeller sparked the Hoosiers' resurgence and brought the IU men's basketball team to the Sweet Sixteen. Zeller is the face of college hoops at a school, and in a state, where basketball is king. He's lies at the heart of his team and IU Athletics as a whole. His role as both an athlete and a nationally recognized representative of the university makes him a clear choice here.

Sean Morrison is a former contributing writer to Inside Indiana and

Alex’s pick

In a season during which a freshman class that included two Freshmen All-Americans and four unanimous selections to the Big Ten All-Freshman team, first baseman Sam Travis stood out. From the moment Travis entered the lineup, he became a key cog, reaching base in his first 30 games and eventually earning the second Big Ten Freshman of the Year award in IU history. Travis ended the season ranked in the conference’s top five in runs batted in (second), doubles (fourth), home runs (tied for fifth) and total bases (tied for fifth). Travis, who the Cincinnati Reds drafted out of high school in the 40th round in 2011, played in every single game for IU but performed best during Big Ten season, batting .340 and driving in 27 runs, the ninth-best total in program history.

Alex McCarthy is a contributing writer to Inside Indiana and

Wes’ pick

With first basemen like Mark Teixeira, Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez and Miguel Cabrera all making over $21 million for the 2012 season, it is easy to see where MLB owners invest a large chunk of money. So Sam Travis’ freshmen year at first base is nothing to ignore. Besides being named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and as well as an unanimous choice for the Big Ten’s All-Freshman squad, he successfully reached base for the first 30 games of his IU career. A .319 average with 50 RBIs as a freshman has many MLB scouts salivating already.

Wes Scott is a contributing writer for Inside Indiana and

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