MSU RB Kenneth Walker receives Doak Walker Award and Walter Camp POY award


MSU running back Kenneth Walker holds the game ball after rushing for 264 yards and four touchdowns against Northwestern on Sept. 3, 2021/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Matt Merrifield, General Assignment Reporter

EAST LANSING, Mich— After helping lead Michigan State football to a 10-win season, running back Kenneth Walker III has won the Doak Walker award, which is given annually to the best running back in college football. Walker beat out finalists Breece Hall from Iowa State and Tyler Badie from Missouri. Walker is the 32nd player overall, and first Spartan, to win the award.

The award is awarded annually to the best running back in college football.

Shortly after, Walker also received the Walter Camp Player of the Year award, earning it over Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett and Georgia defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. He is the first ever Spartan to win this award as well.

Walker transferred to Michigan State from Wake Forest after the 2020 season and immediately became an impact player for the Spartans. On the first play of the season against Northwestern, Walker took off for a 75-yard touchdown run and finished the game with 264 yards and four touchdowns, setting the tone for the season. 

MSU quarterback Payton Thorne congratulates running back Kenneth Walker after Walker runs for a touchdown against Purdue on Nov. 6, 2021/ Photo Credit: Sarah Smith/WDBM

Walker’s best performance of the season came when Michigan State needed it most against rival No. 6 Michigan. Michigan State’s 16-point comeback wouldn’t have been possible without Walker running for 197 yards and five touchdowns. 

Walker finished the regular season second in the country in rushing with 1,636 yards, behind only Lew Nichols from Central Michigan. He had no issue finding the end zone this season, scoring a total 19 touchdowns, including 18 on the ground, which placed him eighth in the country. Walker was consistently a force for Michigan State’s offense, averaging 136.3 yards per game; he ran for over 100 yards in eight games this season. 

He also led the country with 1,154 rushing yards after contact, 20-plus yard rushes (21) and forced missed tackles with 89.

The impressive season from the junior running back has gained the attention of NFL scouts and Walker is now considered one of the top running back prospects in the 2022 draft class. Walker will get an opportunity to finish his 2021 campaign strong in the Peach Bowl against Pittsburgh on Dec. 30.