Walker selected at No. 41 by Seattle


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

Nathan Stearns, Sports Broadcast Director

EAST LANSING, Mich— Former Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker became the highest Spartan draft pick since 2017 on Thursday evening.

The Seattle Seahawks picked Walker with the 41st pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. A second round selection, he is the highest pick since 2017 when convincingly enough, Seattle selected defensive tackle Malik McDowell with the 35th overall pick.

Walker was the second overall running back taken in the draft, following Breece Hall to the New York Jets.

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

A Wake Forest transfer, Walker burst onto the scene with a 264-yard, four touchdown performance in the Spartans’ 38-21 season-opening win over Northwestern. He would follow that performance up with several more exceptional outings, including a 197-yard, five touchdown performance in the Spartans’ 37-33 victory over No. 6 Michigan on Oct. 30, 2021.

Overall, Walker ran for 1,636 yards and 18 touchdowns on 263 carries. He also had 89 receiving yards and a score; Walker led all Power Five running backs in total rushing yards and was tied for eighth in the country with his 18 rushing scores. Despite opting out for the 2022 Peach Bowl, he managed to compile eight 100-yard plus rushing outings and four 150-yard plus performances.

According to PFF, Walker also led the FBS in rushing yards after contact with 1,168. He was also the quickest RB to reach 1,00 rushing yards in school history and was named as the Co-Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press.

For his efforts, Walker was named as the Doak Walker and Walter Camp award winner. The first-ever MSU player to win either award, he also received consensus first-team All-American honors and was named as an All-Big Ten first team selection.

Before coming to MSU, Walker spent two years at Wake Forest where he ran for 1,158 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. He will join a rebuilding Seahawks bunch that recently traded away quarterback Russell Wilson, but returns running backs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny.

He is also the first Spartan draft pick in each of the past two years: last year snapped an 80-year mark where MSU had at least one player drafted. It was the third-longest streak, behind Michigan and USC.