EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – After Michigan State’s 80-year streak of having a player taken in the NFL Draft was snapped a year ago, Kenneth Walker III reinvigorated it on Friday night when he was selected No. 41 overall in the second round.
He was the second running back in the 2022 NFL Draft to be taken off of the board after the New York Jets went with Iowa State’s Breece Hall at No. 36 overall.
Walker is the first Spartan to be selected in the second round since 2017 when defensive tackle Malik McDowell was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks.
Walker’s lone season in East Lansing was an impactful one, and historic too. Not only was he the first Spartan ever to win the prestigious Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, but he was the first-ever Spartan to receive the Doak Walker Award.
Walker finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting, the highest finish for a Spartan since offensive tackle Tony Mandarich also placed sixth in 1988.
He literally burst onto the scene at Northwestern in Michigan State’s season opener when he took a handoff from Payton Thorne, on the first play from scrimmage, and raced down the sideline for a 75-yard touchdown. It gave MSU the lead just 13 seconds into the game. He’d end up scoring a career-high (at the time) four touchdowns in his Spartan debut.
A transfer from Wake Forest, Michigan State coach Mel Tucker always likes to joke about the exchange between him and Walker following the Northwestern game. Walker thanked him for taking a chance on him and Tucker replied, “Are you kidding me? Thank you for taking a chance on us.”
Overall during his time in a Spartan uniform, Walker collected 1,636 rushing yards, the fourth most by a Spartan in a single season in school history. Walker was also the fastest Spartan to reach 1,000 yards in a single season in terms of carries (153 carries).
In addition, his 18 rushing TDs are tied for fifth most in an MSU season.