MSU RB Kenneth Walker declares for NFL Draft, will not play in Peach Bowl


MSU running back Kenneth Walker rumbles forward for a short gain during the Spartans’40-29 loss to Purdue on Nov. 6, 2021/ Photo Credit: Sarah Smith/WDBM

Manit Patel, General Assignment Reporter

EAST LANSING, Mich—Following a phenomenal season in which he was recognized as an Unanimous All-American, as well as the Walter Camp Player of the Year and the Doak Walker Award winner, Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker announced his intentions on Thursday to enter the 2022 NFL Draft and forgo MSU’s Peach Bowl game on Dec. 30. 

Walker enters the draft process as Pro Football Focus’ No. 52 overall prospect and the No. 1 running back prospect. This comes following a season where he ran for 1,646 yards, good for second-most in the FBS, and 18 touchdowns, good for eighth in the FBS over 12 games. 

He also led the FBS in yards after contact (1,168), 20-plus yard carries (21) and missed forced tackles (89). By virtue of his rushing success, Walker finished the regular season sixth in the country in yards from scrimmage, averaging 143.8 yards per game.

Walker arrived as a transfer in January after playing two seasons for the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. During his tenure in Winston-Salem, he ran for 1,158 yards and 17 scores, 13 of which came during the 2020 season.

MSU quarterback Payton Thorne celebrates with Kenneth Walker after MSU’s narrow 30-27 win over Penn State on Nov. 30, 2021/ Photo Credit: Sarah Smith/WDBM

Walker took his first carry as a Spartan for 75 yards and a touchdown against the Northwestern Wildcats on Sept. 3. He finished that game against the Wildcats with 264 yards and four touchdowns en route to a 38-21 road victory. 

From there on, he established himself as one of the premier stars in college football. His primetime moment came in the Spartans’ 37-33 victory over No. 6 Michigan on Oct. 30  when he capped a 16-point Spartan second-half comeback with a 23-yard touchdown run to give him 197 yards and five touchdowns against the Wolverines.

Walker helped head coach Mel Tucker revive an offense that was downtrodden last year en route to a 2-5 record. He also helped Tucker achieve recruiting inroads that will build the football program for the future. As one of the most impactful Spartans ever, Walker received the Doak Walker Award, the award given to the nation’s best running back, and the Walter Camp Player of the Year award. He is the first Spartan to ever win either one of these awards.

He also finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting and was one of three finalists for the Maxwell Award, issued annually to the best all-around player in college football.

The unanimous All-American finished his career as a Spartan doing snow angels following a 30-27 victory over Penn State to clinch the program it’s first 10-win season since 2017. In that game, he ran the ball 30 times for 138 yards and one score.