Kenneth Walker III named Walter Camp Player of the Year finalist


Matthieu Mitchell Photography


EAST LANSING, Michigan – Michigan State junior running back and Heisman Trophy candidate Kenneth walker iii was named one of five finalists for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award – the country’s fourth longest-serving college football honor – the Walter Camp Football Foundation announced Thursday afternoon.

The Walter Camp 2021 Player of the Year recipient, who is elected by Head Coaches and Sports Information Directors of the 130 Football Bowl Division, will be announced on Thursday, December 9 on The Home Depot College TV show Football Awards on ESPN.

Previously named a finalist for the Maxwell Prize and the Doak Walker Prize, Walker was named the Big Ten Running Back of the Year on Wednesday. He was also named to the All-Big Ten First Team, a first for a Spartan running back since Le’Veon Bell in 2012.

Walker has led the Big Ten in rushing all season and currently ranks second in the FBS with 1,636 rushing yards (136.3 yards per game). He leads the FBS in rushing yards after contact (1,154), runs over 20 yards (21) and forced tackles missed (89), and also ranks among the nation’s leaders in runs over. 10 yards (tied for second with 46), total touchdowns (tied for fourth with 19), rushing touchdowns (tied for fifth with 18), scrum yards (sixth with 143.8 yards), all-purpose yards (eighth with 143.8 yards) and yards per stroke (14th with 6.2 avg.).

In 12 regular-season games, Walker amassed 1,636 rushing yards, the fourth largest by a Spartan in a single season in school history. Walker was the fastest Spartan to reach 1,000 yards in a single season in terms of carries (153 carries). Additionally, his 18 rushing touchdowns are tied for fifth in an MSU season and his 19 total touchdowns (a receiving score) are tied for fourth.

Walker has eight 100-yard rushing games this season, including two 200-yard games (264 against Northwestern on September 3; 172 in Miami on September 18; 126 against Western Kentucky on September 25; 233 at Rutgers on Oct. 9; 197 vs. Michigan on October 30; 136 at Purdue on November 6; 143 against Maryland on November 13; 138 against Penn State on November 27).

After a record-breaking performance in the 37-33 victory over No.6 Michigan on October 30, Walker III took home several honors, including National Offensive Player of the Week (Walter Camp Football Foundation, Maxwell Award, The Athletic) and Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week. Walker rushed for five touchdowns, the most ever for a player against the Wolverines, and finished with a total of 197 yards on just 23 carries (8.6 on average). His scores came on runs of 27 and 8 yards in the second quarter, 1 yard in the third quarter and 58 and 23 yards in the fourth quarter. He also had 208 versatile yards (197 rushing, 11 receiving). The five TDs were tied for second in school history (record: six by Blake Ezor against Northwestern in 1989; five by Javon Ringer against Eastern Michigan in 2008).

Walker’s 94-yard touchdown run in the third quarter at Rutgers was the longest run in Michigan state’s 125-year football history, improving a 90-yard dash by Lynn Chandnois against Arizona in 1949. It was also the longest offensive scrimmage play in school history, surpassing Tony Banks‘ 93-yard pass to Nigea Carter against Indiana in 1994. Walker finished with 29 carries for 233 yards against the Scarlet Knights .

Walker had a record breaking debut as a Spartan, rushing for a career-high 264 yards – the seventh-highest total in school history – while scoring a career-high four touchdowns to lead the Spartans outside Northwestern on September 3. the most rushed yards by a Spartan in a first game wearing the green and white. Walker became only the second Spartan to record more than 250 rushing yards and four touchdowns in the same game (Eric Allen, school record 350 yards and four touchdowns against Purdue on October 30, 1971).

The other four finalists for the 2021 Walter Camp Player of the Year award are: Georgia senior nose tackle Jordan Davis, Michigan senior defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, Pittsburgh senior quarterback Kenny Pickett and quarterback Alabama sophomore back Bryce Young.

The No.11 Michigan State (10-2, 7-2 Big Ten) will discover his bowl destination on Sunday, December 5.


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