After a spectacular season in Michigan State, Kenneth Walker III moves to the NFL.
Walker announced Thursday that he had decided to compete in the NFL draft and will not play Pittsburgh in the Peach Bowl on December 30th.
With 1,646 yards and 18 touchdowns, Walker was arguably the best running back in the country in 2021. For his efforts, Walker took sixth place in the Heisman Trophy poll.
Walker, who spent his first two seasons in the Wake Forest, quickly made a name for himself upon arriving at MSU. His first touch in a Spartans jersey was a 75-yard touchdown run against Northwestern, but he’s mostly remembered for his performance against Michigan.
In a battle between two 7-0 teams on October 30th, Walker was instrumental in MSU’s 37:33 victory over their state rival. Walker stormed for 197 yards and five touchdowns on 23 carries, including the game-winning 23-yard score with just over five minutes of play.
Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III competes against Michigan during an NCAA college football game in East Lansing, Michigan on Saturday, October 30, 2021 (AP Photo / Al Goldis)
It was a game that made MSU a permanent fixture in the college football playoff conversation. The Spartans would lose two of their last four regular season games, but they still ended 10-2 in Mel Tucker’s second season at East Lansing.
Michigan State went just 5-2 in 2020, Tucker’s first season as head coach. The addition of Walker was a key to the turnaround.
Before landing at East Lansing, Walker was a prolific player in a shared backfield situation in the Wake Forest. He stormed for 579 yards and four touchdowns in 2019 and left for 579 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2020.
Walker had 217 combined carries in his two seasons with the Demon Deacons. At MSU, he was a workhorse. In 12 games, Walker had 263 carries – the fifth most in the country. He was also runner-up in the nation in rushing yards (1,636) and yards per game (136.33).