As 2012 comes to a close, we'll be running a series of Top 12 of 2012 lists, featuring some of the top photos, players, events and bits of news from the last year. RUGBYMag's official 2012 Awards are chronicled in our November issue.
Today we look at the top 12 No. 12s of 2012, taking players from the national, club and college ranks. The inside centers of the DI-A, Super League and men's DI club finalists all make the list, as does one very impressive young woman and the subject of one of the best comeback stories of 2012.
Katie Johnson is a thin, tall, lanky young player, but when injuries pushed the former U20s captain from the wing to the midfield, she was tremendous for the Twin Cities Amazons. She is the only female to make our list. She also helped the Youngbloodz to the semifinals at 7s Nationals.
Jack Tracy did not play on the Belmont Shore 15s team that won Nationals in the spring, but he did play for the 7s National Champs in the summer and inside center for USA A at the Americas Rugby Championship. The former U20s stud and college football player made his triumphant return to rugby this year after struggling with substance abuse issues. He's now clean, a National Champion and back on the Eagle track.
Andrew Suniula took some criticism in 2011, as the Eagles struggled to get the ball wide and have a fully explosive backline attack. But in 2012, under new head coach Mike Tolkin, the Chicago Griffin flourished. Tolkin's game plan freed Suniula to make more plays, and he capitalized on the new opportunity.
Here are our top 12 No. 12s of 2012.
12 Best No. 12s of 2012
We look at the 12 best inside centers of 2012, from all ranks - National Team, college and club. Here they are in alphabetical order.
Life's Colton Cariaga was a big playmaker for the Running Eagles in 2012. Here he is on defense at the CRC in Philadelphia. Marvin Dangerfield photo
Dean Gericke wore No. 12 for Arkansas State, helping them to the DI-A final. Here he is at the ARC playing No. 13. Judy Teasdale photo
Hoseki Kofe (far right) combined with Paul Lasike to make the most dangerous midfield in college rugby in 2012. Jeff Rider photo
Katie Johnson shined at inside center for the Twin City Amazons after injuries pushed the wing to the midfield. Here she is playing 7s for the Youngbloodz. Dobson Images
Though he played flyhalf for the Eagles, L'Estrange played a lot of inside center for the Super League champion NYAC. Ed Hagerty photo
Former Texas A&M All American Hunter Leland played a lot of positions for the Denver Barbarians in 2012, including wing and scrumhalf, but he is most comfortable in the midfield. We think he has a bright future in 7s and 15s. Phillipa Snyman photo
Ata Malifa helped Glendale to the DI final in 2012, where the Raptors fell short against Belmont Shore. Malifa is a hard hitter, good kicker and dangerous runner for Glendale at No. 12. Pat Clifton photo
Ed Pitts, the quiet star, has evolved into a great center for Belmont Shore, 2012 DI National Champs. Dobson Images
Mile Pulu has been injured and out of shape a lot lately, but he was still a very dangerous player for SFGG in the spring. He bounces between Nos. 12 and 13. Austin Brewin photo
Capped for Fiji, William Rasileka was awesome for OPSB in 2012, and was arguably the best inside center in the country. He helped OPSB to the Super League final, where they fell short against NYAC. Cody Secker photo
Andrew Suniula really blossomed under the new attack patterns installed by Mike Tolkin in 2012. Here he is after scoring a try in the blowout over Romania in November. Tracy Ostrofsky photo
Jack Tracy, the former U20 stud, made a heartwarming return to rugby this year, helping Belmont Shore to a Club 7s National Championship. At the ARC, he played inside center for USA A. Judy Teasdale photo