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- American football player
After one spectacular season at Michigan State, Kenneth Walker III is moving on to the NFL.
Walker announced Thursday that he has decided to enter the NFL draft and will not play in the Peach Bowl against Pittsburgh on Dec. 30.
With 1,646 yards and 18 touchdowns, Walker has been arguably the best running back in the country in 2021. For his efforts, Walker finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting.
Walker, who spent his first two seasons at Wake Forest, quickly made a name for himself upon his arrival at MSU. His first touch in a Spartans uniform was a 75-yard touchdown run against Northwestern, but he will most be remembered for his performance against Michigan.
In an Oct. 30 battle of two 7-0 teams, Walker was instrumental in MSU’s come-from-behind 37-33 win over its in-state rival. Walker rushed for 197 yards and five touchdowns on 23 carries, including the game-winning 23-yard score with just over five minutes to play.
It was a game that firmly put MSU in the College Football Playoff conversation. The Spartans would lose two of their final four regular-season games, but they still ended up going 10-2 in Mel Tucker’s second season in East Lansing.
Michigan State went just 2-5 in 2020, Tucker’s first season as head coach. The addition of Walker was a key to the turnaround.
Before he landed in East Lansing, Walker was a productive player in a shared backfield situation at Wake Forest. He rushed for 579 yards and four touchdowns in 2019 and went 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 — fifth-most in the country. He also was second in the nation in rushing yards (1,636) and yards per game (136.33).