Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition 2012: Ranking This Year's Rookies

Amber LeeSports Lists Lead WriterFebruary 14, 2012

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition 2012: Ranking This Year's Rookies

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    Last year, Kate Upton was voted the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition's Rookie of the Year. In just one year she's gone from the "next big thing," to the fashion world's preeminent "it girl." 

    Which means we are desperately in need of a new next big thing, an it-girl-in-waiting for when the heavenly Upton eventually becomes yesterday's news—a sad, but guaranteed reality of the modeling world. 

    Let's take a look at this year's rookies and see which one of them has what it takes. 

6. Adaora Akubilo

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    At just 22 years old, Adaora Akubilo is the least-seasoned of the rookies in terms of modeling experience.

    The Nigerian beauty was discovered at a Sports Illustrated swimsuit competition and, since then, her career has really taken off. 

    Adaora absolutely has what it takes to be the next big thing, but she's going to need more than a year to get there.  

5. Crystal Renn

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    Crystal Renn is far and away the most headline-grabbing model in this year's bunch of rookies. At age 25, Renn has already been in the modeling world for 11 years after being discovered by a scout at 14. 

    Renn is most famous for her shape-shifting. After struggling with her weight early on, Renn gained 70 pounds and re-emerged as a plus-size model. Just three years later, she dropped the weight to increase her work options. 

    Renn has definitely got the voluptuous Kate Upton body that attracts attention from male admirers, but her preference for high fashion work could keep her out of the mainstream. 

4. Jessica Perez

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    Jessica Perez might be a rookie to the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition, but she's no stranger to bearing her body for sexy campaigns and publications. 

    The Costa Rican cutie is one of the biggest Latina models working today and in the past has worked for Victoria's Secret. 

    Perez is curvaceous and lovin' it—she definitely has the body and the personality to eventually outshine Upton. 

3. Kirby Griffin

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    Up-and-comer Kirby Griffin may have already taken the modeling world by storm, but judging by her IMDB page, she's preparing to take the acting world by storm, down the line. 

    The Georgia native travels the world for modeling gigs, but she's made West Hollywood her home base in recent years—she is taking acting classes and workshops when her schedule allows. 

    Griffin is gorgeous, and if she's any good at acting, it probably won't be long until she's a household name.  

2. Nina Agdal

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    Dazzling Danish dame Nina Agdal is already a full-on internet sensation—every men's-minded website on the web has featured photo galleries of a bikini-clad Agdal. 

    Seriously—it took me 20 minutes to narrow down the photo choices because my head was spinning.

    The only reason I ranked her No. 2 is because Agdal and Upton are both blonde, and sometimes people like a change.

    I'm sure nobody would be disappointed to see this one become the next big thing, however.

1. Michelle Vawer

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    Michelle Vawer has become one of the most recognizable faces—and bodies—in lingerie modeling.

    She's recently modeled swimwear on the runway for Bloomingdale's and walked the catwalk at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Swim in Miami. 

    Vawer may or may not officially win the Rookie of the Year vote, but she's definitely the next big thing.

    Look for her on the arm of a famous athlete any day.