Editor's note: As 2011 comes to a close, NESN.com takes a look back at the year in sports. Our "11 in '11" series will run during the last 11 days of 2011, reviewing the highs and lows of the memorable year that was.
One of the great things about sports is that you never know who will step up when the spotlight is shining brightest. Throughout the course of the year, sports fans were always learning new names and faces as relative unknowns stepped up to make the big play on the big stage time and again.
Some of the breakout stars came from our own backyard, with a couple of New England players having sophomore seasons to remember. Others came from more obscure places, like the soccer fields of Germany or the gridiron in Waco, Texas.
Wherever they came from, the new faces are sure to stick around for years to come. The sky's the limit for what many of these athletes will be able to accomplish in the years going forward.