Michael Phelps and the Beijing Olympic Games made 2008 an exceptional year for athletics, but with the new year around the corner, do we have anything to look forward to in the world of sports? Hell yes! Here's a rundown of the people to watch in sports in 2009.
1. Tom Brady
Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots is hit as he throws by defensive tackle Barry Cofield #96 and Osi Umenyiora #72 of the New York Giants in the first half during Super Bowl XLII on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Getty Images)more pics »Will Tom Brady even be back in 2009? That's the question a lot of people want answered. Although the Patriots say Brady's recovery is on track, a few rumors circulated early in the season surrounding the two torn ligaments in his knee. Was there an infection? Were numerous surgeries required? Who knows! What matters though is if he can regain his spot as the NFL's top quarterback. Still, battling back from a devastating knee injury is not the easiest of tasks, especially for a quarterback. If he can learn to trust his knee and deal with the pressure of restoring New England to their status as a solid football team, Brady will no doubt find himself on route to yet another Super Bowl victory.
2. Tim Tebow
Quarterback Tim Tebow #15 of the Florida Gators throws a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter over defensive end Cliff Matthews #83 of the South Carolina Gamecocks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 15, 2008 in Gainesville, Florida. Florida defeated South Carolina 56-6. (Getty Images)more pics »
Can Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow make the transition from Heisman trophy winning college quarterback to NFL quarterback? It shouldn't be difficult considering his strong arm and quick feet. This season he led the Gators to a 12-1 season, clinching the #2 spot in the final BCS rankings. Look for him to grab the much-coveted first-round draft pick spot in 2009. Although he may surprise us all by deciding to finish off his fourth year in Florida.
3. Colt McCoy
Quarterback Colt McCoy #12 of the Texas Longhorns awaits the officials as they review a play against the Colorado Buffaloes at Folsom Field on October 4, 2008 in Boulder, Colorado. Texas defeated Colorado 38-14. (Getty Images)more pics »There's no doubt that in four years as a starting quarterback for the legendary Texas Longhorns, Colt McCoy has left his mark on college football. In 2008 he secured numerous records including most career touchdown passes, most touchdown passes in a season, most total touchdowns by a Texas player, most career wins and most career passing yards. If you're waiting for him to make his NFL debut, don't hold your breath. McCoy announced that he'll finish off his time in Texas. Why? He wants to play in a national championship game. Still, he's asked the NFL to evaluate his draft prospects, saying if he was ranked as a first or second round draft pick, he'd consider entering himself into the draft. Of course, he'd be stupid not to, but if he stays in Texas college football will be that much more interesting to watch.
4. The San Jose Sharks
Jody Shelley #45 of the San Jose Sharks skates out onto the ice before the NHL game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at HP Pavilion on December 4, 2008 in San Jose, California. The Sharks defeated the Blue Jackets 3-2. (Getty Images)more pics »
OK, so the Sharks aren't one single person, but multiple people make up the team and they're all worth watching in 2009. With Todd McLellan replacing Doug Wilson as head coach, the Sharks have proven to be one of the most successful teams in the NHL, and it's about time. With players like Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Milan Michalek, their roster has been stacked for years, they just needed a strong coach to take the lead. With the winningest record of any team this season, San Jose sits at the top of the NHL standings and if they continue their strong momentum, they could snatch their first Stanley Cup victory.
5. John Tavares
John Tavares needs no explanation, just watch the video above. Luckily we won't have to wait long to watch him in the states. He's expected to be a first round draft pick in the 2009 NHL draft, and I'm betting he'll take the No. 1 spot.
6. Los Angeles Lakers
Lamar Odom #7 (L) and Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers have a playful moment on the bench after Odom fouled out of the game with the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center November 18, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers won 116-109. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Getty Images)more pics »Let's call it now, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics will battle it out for the NBA championship, but unlike Boston, LA hasn't seen a title since 2002. They want it, bad, and are poised to grab it. With a record of 24-5 they're not only tearing up their division, but the entire Western Conference. 2009 belongs to the Lakers.
7. Jonny Flynn
Jonny Flynn #10 of the Syracuse Orangedrives the ball against Dante Cunningham #33 and Shane Clark #20 of the Villanova Wildcats during the 2008 Big East Men's Basketball Championship at Madison Square Garden on March 12, 2008 in New York City. (Getty Images)more pics »
It's hard to call the college basketball season, since we're only a little less than two months in, but as far as point guards go Syracuse's Jonny Flynn is making a name for himself. Coming off an incredible Freshman year, where Flynn scored 28 points in his first game and averaged 15.7 points a game, there's no denying he's one of the top point guards in the country. Already NBA scouts are discussing 2009 draft possibilities and speculate he'll be a high first round pick. With March Madness coming up and an entire college season left to go, look for Flynn to make his mark in 2009.
8. The New York Yankees
Jason Giambi #25 of the New York Yankees is mobbed by his teammates after his game winning hit against the Boston Red Sox on August 28, 2008 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. The game is the last regular season game at the current Yankee Stadium between the longtime rivals.The Yankees will play in the new Yankee Stadium starting next year. The Yankees won the game 3-2. (Getty Images)more pics »You can hate the Yankees all you want, but they are baseball history and with some serious trade transactions, including Chicago's Nick Swisher and Milwaukee's CC Sabathia finalized, they're set to head into spring training with one of the strongest rosters in the MLB. Still, in the past eight seasons the richest team in the MLB has proven that deep pockets can't buy you a World Series title, but maybe a shiny new stadium can. The Yankees will christen the New Yankee Stadium this fall.
9. Andy Murray
Andy Murray of Great Britain plays a forehand against Marin Cilic of Croatia during their third round match at the Madrid Masters tennis tournament at the Madrid Arena on October 16, 2008 in Madrid, Spain. (Getty Images)more pics »
At only 21-years-old British tennis phenom Andy Murray has already defeated some of the biggest names in tennis and is currently the highest ranked British tennis player. Just two years ago he broke into the ATP top 10, and after making it to the final round of the 2008 U.S. Open Murray ranked No. 4. With the start of the 2009 ATP season fast approaching Murray could easily make his way into the ATP's top three.
10. Michelle Wie
Michelle Wie makes a tee shot on the 11th hole during the first round of the CN Canadian Women's Open at the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club August 14, 2008 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Getty Images)more pics »Michelle Wie has been on the golf world's radar since 2005, when at 16-years-old she participated in her first LPGA tournament. Although she was disqualified, the golf community, mesmerized by her young age, poise, determination and potential, would continue to follow her career. Now at 19-years-old, Wie has officially gone pro, earning her 2009 LPGA tour card, which allows her to participate in any tournament she wants. She'll make her official debut in February at SBS Open at Turtle Bay, and the Hawaii native is expected to be the Tiger Woods of women's golf. But no pressure.