Vote now! Who is the 2016 Michigan athlete of the year?

Vote now! Who is the 2016 Michigan athlete of the year?

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Vote now! Who is the 2016 Michigan athlete of the year?

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Who will be Michigan's 2016 athlete of the year! Vote on our poll at freep.com!

Who will be Michigan’s 2016 athlete of the year! Vote on our poll at freep.com!

Some of them set records. Some of them drop jaws with their highlight reels. Some of them lead amazing comebacks. Some of them almost literally do everything.

We’ve got it all in our 2016 pool for Michigan athlete of the year. There are 12 nominees, from baseball to basketball to softball to boxing. And we need you to cast your votes by the end of the year (11:59 p.m. Dec. 31, to be exact). We’ll announce the winner on New Year’s Day 2017.

►Also read: The Top 15 Michigan sports plays of the year

So what criteria should you use? Whatever you’d like! In choosing our nominees, we considered dominance in their respective sports and leagues, as well as other factors such as stats, records, impact and popularity.

Let’s introduce you to the nominees, in alphabetical order by last name!

In this Nov. 27, 2015, file photo, Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis runs with the ball for a 30-yard touchdown reception against Toledo in an NCAA college football game in Toledo, Ohio.

In this Nov. 27, 2015, file photo, Western Michigan wide receiver Corey Davis runs with the ball for a 30-yard touchdown reception against Toledo in an NCAA college football game in Toledo, Ohio.

Corey Davis

Senior wide receiver, Western Michigan football

The 13-0 Broncos engineered an unlikely run to the Cotton Bowl largely thanks to the performance of Davis, who has tallied 91 catches for 1,427 yards and 18 touchdowns this season. But perhaps most importantly, Davis has set the new Football Bowl Subdivision record with 5,205 career receiving yards to go along with 51 career touchdowns. His one-handed, Odell Beckham Jr.-like catch against Northern Illinois also checked in at No. 8 in our Michigan sports plays of the year.

Oakland guard Kay Felder.

Oakland guard Kay Felder.

Kay Felder

Senior guard, Oakland basketball

Despite his small size at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, Felder’s play on the basketball court is massive. The Detroit native and former Detroit Pershing standout dropped 24.4 points per game as a senior at Oakland University in the 2015-16 season, ranking 3rd in all of Division I basketball, while leading the nation with 9.3 assists per game. Thanks to Felder’s game, the Golden Grizzlies went 23-12 last season, reaching the Vegas 16 championship game. All of that led Felder to get drafted 54th overall in June’s NBA draft by the Atlanta Hawks, who traded him to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Felder is averaging 9.2 minutes per game in 12 games with the defending champion Cavs, averaging 3.8 points, 1.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists.

Sep 28, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Michael Fulmer pitches the ball during the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park.

Sep 28, 2016; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Michael Fulmer pitches the ball during the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Comerica Park.

Michael Fulmer

Right-handed pitcher, Detroit Tigers

Fulmer wasn’t expected to be a mainstay in the Tigers’ rotation entering the 2016 season; in fact, he started the year in Triple-A Toledo. But he made his season debut April 29 in Minnesota and, despite some growing pains in the early-going, the Tigers won 15 of his first 17 starts. In that stretch, Fulmer set a franchise record with 33.1 consecutive scoreless innings, which ranks only behind Fernando Valenzuela in 1981 for the longest scoreless inning streak by a rookie. Fulmer finished the season 11-7 with a 3.06 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, striking out 132 batters, and was named the American League Rookie of the Year.

Red Wings' Dylan Larkin looks on during the third period vs. the Winnipeg Jets at Joe Louis Arena on Nov. 4, 2016 in Detroit.

Red Wings’ Dylan Larkin looks on during the third period vs. the Winnipeg Jets at Joe Louis Arena on Nov. 4, 2016 in Detroit.

Dylan Larkin

Forward, Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings are heavily struggling in the first half of the 2016-17 season, but the 20-year-old Larkin gives the franchise great hope for the future. Drafted 15th overall in 2014, the Waterford native and former Michigan hockey star led the Red Wings with 23 goals and a +/- of 11 his rookie season, and finished tied for third on the team with 45 points. Larkin also caught the nation’s eyeballs last January, when he won the NHL’s fastest skater competition in record time at NHL All-Star festivities in Nashville.

Donovan Peoples-Jones is 6 feet 2 and 193 pounds. He is the No. 11 player in the class and the No. 1 receiver, according to 247Sports.com. Rivals has him No. 13 overall and the No. 2 wideout.

Donovan Peoples-Jones is 6 feet 2 and 193 pounds. He is the No. 11 player in the class and the No. 1 receiver, according to 247Sports.com. Rivals has him No. 13 overall and the No. 2 wideout.

Donovan Peoples-Jones

Wide receiver, Detroit Cass Tech

Peoples-Jones isn’t just Michigan’s best high school football player. He’s the best high school football prospect to come out of the state in years. The Cass Tech star dazzled on the gridiron once again his senior year and led the Technicians to another Division 1 state championship. He tallied 1,007 receiving yards and 17 touchdowns his senior year. Peoples-Jones committed to Michigan last week, joining the likes of other top Michigan prep talents such as Detroit King’s Ambry Thomas and Cass Tech teammate Jaylen Kelly-Powell.

Michigan Wolverines' Jabrill Peppers on defense against the Maryland Terrapins during the second half Nov. 5, 2016 at Michigan Stadium.

Michigan Wolverines’ Jabrill Peppers on defense against the Maryland Terrapins during the second half Nov. 5, 2016 at Michigan Stadium.

Jabrill Peppers

Junior linebacker, Michigan football

Michigan football was a freight train for much of the fall, and a big reason for that was the player wearing No. 5 that was found just about anywhere on the field. Though his stat line won’t wow you – 66 total tackles, 13 tackles for loss, three sacks, one interception on defense – Peppers filled holes wherever U-M needed him, including on offense, where he rushed 27 times for 167 yards and three touchdowns. He also made big moves in the return game and, though he ended up with just one punt return for a touchdown, Peppers often flipped field position with his return abilities. Peppers was the lone defensive player nominated for the Heisman Trophy, finishing fifth in voting.

Michigan's Sierra Romero.

Michigan’s Sierra Romero.

Sierra Romero

Infielder, Michigan softball

Romero ended her immaculate college career as the best softball player in the United States. The Murrieta, Calif. native led the Wolverines with a .451 average, 19 home runs, 79 RBIs and 76 runs scored as U-M went 52-7 in the 2015-16 season and reached yet another Women’s College World Series. Romero was named Big Ten softball player of the year three times and, in 2016, was named the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, the espnW softball player of the year and the Schutt Sports/NFCA Division I player of the year.

United States' Claressa Shields displays her gold medals - from London and from Rio - for the women's middleweight 75-kg boxing at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016.

United States’ Claressa Shields displays her gold medals – from London and from Rio – for the women’s middleweight 75-kg boxing at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016.

Claressa Shields

Women’s middleweight boxer, Flint

“T-Rex” has shown time and time again that she can’t be stopped in the ring – including this year at the 2016 Rio Olympics. The Flint native secured back-to-back gold medals in the women’s middleweight class with absolute ease, defeating Nouchka Fontijn of the Netherlands in the championship match. Shields went pro last month and beat Franchon Crews by unanimous decision in her first match. She is 78-1 in her boxing career, with the only loss coming in 2012. The 2015 documentary about her life in Flint, “T-Rex,” was shown at the 2016 Freep Film Festival last March.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford looks to pass against the Giants at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 18, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford looks to pass against the Giants at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 18, 2016 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Matthew Stafford

Quarterback, Detroit Lions

No, he didn’t make the initial Pro Bowl roster this season, but Lions fans know he should be in it. The Lions are surprisingly 9-5 and in the NFC North lead with just two weeks of the regular season to go, and there’s no question the team MVP has been Stafford. Eight of the team’s nine victories this year came from fourth-quarter comebacks led by Stafford. He’s thrown for 3,720 yards, 22 touchdowns and just eight interceptions this season while completing 66.3% of his passes. On a semi-unrelated note, he’s winning off the field, too: Stafford and his wife, Kelly, are expecting twins.

In this Dec. 19, 2015, file photo, Michigan State's Denzel Valentine brings the ball upcourt during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Northeastern in Boston.

In this Dec. 19, 2015, file photo, Michigan State’s Denzel Valentine brings the ball upcourt during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Northeastern in Boston.

Denzel Valentine

Senior guard, Michigan State basketball

Valentine’s NBA career is just budding with the Chicago Bulls but, before he was drafted 14th overall, the Lansing native was named Associated Press Player of the Year for what he accomplished at Michigan State his senior year. Valentine broke out with 19.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game for the Spartans, leading MSU to a 29-6 overall record and a Big Ten tournament championship. Valentine was a consensus first-team All-American, was named Big Ten Player of the Year and went from perhaps being undrafted to becoming a lottery pick in June’s draft.

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander acknowledges the crowd against the Atlanta Braves on Sept. 30, 2016, at Turner Field.

Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander acknowledges the crowd against the Atlanta Braves on Sept. 30, 2016, at Turner Field.

Justin Verlander

Right-handed pitcher, Detroit Tigers

Fulmer wasn’t the only Tigers pitcher to have an outstanding season. The Tigers’ long-time ace, even at 33 years old, is still pitching with dominance. Verlander – after struggling mightily in 2014 and fighting injuries in 2015 – posted a 16-9 record with a 3.04 ERA in 2016, leading the league with a 1.00 WHIP and 254 strikeouts, to post his best season since 2012. He was a finalist for the AL Cy Young Award for the third time, narrowly losing to former teammate Rick Porcello of the Boston Red Sox in what turned out to be a controversial vote.

Detroit U-D Jesuit's Cassius Winston scores 31 points against North Farmington during the MHSAA boys basketball Class A finals March 26, 2016 at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

Detroit U-D Jesuit’s Cassius Winston scores 31 points against North Farmington during the MHSAA boys basketball Class A finals March 26, 2016 at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

Cassius Winston

Guard, Michigan State and U-D Jesuit basketball

The 2016 Mr. Basketball Award winner and Max Preps first-team All-American following a standout senior year at U-D Jesuit, Winston is now playing under Tom Izzo at Michigan State, averaging 7.5 points and 6.0 assists in 20.7 minutes per game for the Spartans. If his performance as a prep star is any indication, however – 21.9 points, 7.5 assists and five rebounds per game as a senior – Winston should quickly become a star at MSU. He led U-D Jesuit to a Class A state championship last spring and was named the 2016 Gatorade Michigan boys basketball player of the year.

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Contact Brian Manzullo: bmanzullo@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @BrianManzullo.

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Detroit Cass Tech receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones during a game against Detroit King on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, in Detroit.

Detroit Cass Tech receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones during a game against Detroit King on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016, in Detroit.

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