Rand: 13 local sports figures of note for 2013

  • Updated: January 1, 2013 - 8:55 PM
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Philip Nelson.

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We spent the last two weeks recapping the top stories of 2012. Now, we shift our attention to the year that is instead of the year that was. Here are 13 local sports figures who could break through to play major roles in big sports stories in 2013 (in alphabetical order):

1. Nick Bjugstad: He returned to the Gophers men's hockey team instead of turning pro, positioning himself as the go-to player on a team with lofty expectations. He had a modest start, but two goals in a rout of Boston College on Sunday -- which vaulted Minnesota back to No. 1 in the USCHO.com rankings -- set Bjugstad up for an important stretch of play in 2013.

2. Hannah Brandt: If you haven't heard of Brandt, you soon will. As a freshman, she is already the second-leading scorer for the undefeated Gophers women's hockey team (19 goals, 29 assists). Can she help Minnesota go undefeated all season? Play resumes Jan. 11 against North Dakota.

3. Jonas Brodin: The Wild's 2011 first-round pick is a standout defenseman who could contribute immediately when (if?) the NHL finally resumes play. He suffered a broken clavicle in early November, but given a chance to heal he could be the kind of young blue-liner the Wild sorely needs.

4. Jessie Diggins: She was a three-time state Nordic champ at Stillwater High School and has now become the new young star on a rapidly improving U.S. cross country ski team. With the Winter Olympics approaching in about a year, the U.S. could have its strongest team ever -- and Diggins could be a big part of it.

5. Gary Fasching: It's never easy replacing a legend, and Fasching knows that. The longtime St. John's assistant coach takes over for the retired John Gagliardi, the all-time winningest coach in college football history. Gags held down the St. John's position for 60 years, so it's safe to say many eyes will be on Fasching to see how his Johnnies fare.

6. Andre Hollins: We're already seeing major hints of the player Hollins can be for the Gophers men's basketball team. He exploded for 41 points against Memphis. He was terrific in Monday's Big Ten opener against Michigan State. But you get the idea the best is yet to come for the sophomore -- and how he plays will be crucial to how the No. 9-ranked Gophers fare.

7. Tyus Jones: We've known about the Apple Valley basketball phenom for years, but 2013 is an important one for Jones. Now a junior, he very likely will be making a college decision sometime in 2013. He has several suitors and has whittled his official list to eight -- including Minnesota.

8. Philip Nelson: He enters 2013 as a 19-year-old with seven career starts as a true freshman in 2012. And this makes him the QB on the roster with the most experience, with MarQueis Gray done and Max Shortell leaving the program. How well Year 3 of Jerry Kill goes could be influenced greatly by the development of Nelson.

9. Devereaux Peters: The No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 draft by the Lynx had the luxury of coming to a team loaded with veterans. But Taj McWilliams-Franklin, 42, isn't going to play forever -- even if it seems that way sometimes. The continued post development of the 6-2 Peters will be an important factor for the Lynx in 2013.

10. Christian Ponder: The final regular-season tally for Ponder in 2012 -- 2,935 yards passing, 18 TDs, 12 INTs -- doesn't look so bad. And to be sure, he won over some critics Sunday against the Packers. But he starts 2013 with a huge playoff game in Lambeau. That game will be the first of many in 2013 that will define Ponder's future.

11. Alexey Shved: He was hardly among the most heralded offseason acquisitions by the Timberwolves, but we have seen enough of Shved to believe 2013 could be big for him. The idea of Shved and a fully healthy Ricky Rubio playing in the same backcourt is tantalizing.

12. Norwood Teague: The new Gophers AD arrived at a good time in some respects. The football team went to a bowl game. The men's hoops and hockey teams are looking strong. But 2013 will also bring the major challenge of Teague flexing his fundraising muscle to generate the new facilities and other improvements the Gophers sorely need.

13. The Twins starting rotation: This is a bit of a cop-out to not pick one pitcher, but whom would you choose? There are so many new faces, and their collective success or failure will go a long way toward determining whether the 2013 Twins are sneaky contenders, at least on the road to recovery or bound to lose 90 games for a third consecutive year.

MICHAEL RAND

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Toronto - LP: D. Hutchison 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 5
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 2 FINAL
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 1
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 10 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: E. Santana 2
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: M. Gonzalez 2
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 1
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Danks 10 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: N. Karns 5
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: A. Swarzak 2
Detroit - LP: R. Porcello 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 5
Seattle - LP: H. Iwakuma 3 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 8
Los Angeles - WP: C. Perez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5
Texas - WP: S. Tolleson 2 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Street 1
Philadelphia - LP: M. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Doolittle 8
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: I. Kennedy 8
Arizona - LP: W. Miley 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: C. Bergman 8
Cincinnati - WP: A. Simon 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: L. Lynn 2
San Diego 22 FINAL
Buffalo 10
Dallas 34 FINAL
St. Louis 31
Washington 34 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
Houston 17 FINAL
NY Giants 30
Minnesota 9 FINAL
New Orleans 20
Tennessee 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 33
Baltimore 23 FINAL
Cleveland 21
Green Bay 7 FINAL
Detroit 19
Indianapolis 44 FINAL
Jacksonville 17
Oakland 9 FINAL
New England 16
San Francisco 14 FINAL
Arizona 23
Denver 20 FINAL
Seattle 26
Kansas City 34 FINAL
Miami 15
Pittsburgh 37 FINAL
Carolina 19
Chicago 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Columbus 4 FINAL
Carolina 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Washington 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Calgary 1 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Edmonton 0 FINAL
Calgary 1
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(12) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(9) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
(23) East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(20) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
(14) Miss State 34 FINAL
(17) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(13) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
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Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
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(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Toronto FC 3
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35

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