While the Heisman Trophy race may have gotten it wrong in the four finalists this week, a number of outlets did get it right in naming Michigan State Spartans star running back Kenneth Walker III to numerous All-American or All-Big Ten honors. ESPN named Walker to the outlet’s All-American team, The Athletic named him a first-team All-American, and the Associated Press named Walker the Big Ten Newcomer of the Year, as well as the Big Ten co-Offensive Player of the Year.
As mentioned, Walker was named by the Associated Press as the Big Ten Newcomer of the Year and co-Offensive Player of the Year. He shared the co-Offensive Player of the Year honors with Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud. Walker ranks second nationally in yards per game, averaging 136.3, earning him unanimous All-Big Ten first-team honors from the AP as well. He also leads the nation in yards after contact (1,154), 20-plus yard carried (21), and missed forced tackles (89).
Michigan State’s Jayden Reed was also named an AP All-Big Ten first-team offensive player under all-purpose player. Jacob Slade was also named to AP All-Big Ten second-team defense at defensive tackle. Mel Tucker earned AP Big Ten Coach of the Year honors, edging Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh by one vote.
Walker was one of just three Big Ten players to be named to The Athletic’s first-team All-American offense list. The other two players were Ohio State wide receiver Garrett Wilson and Iowa offensive lineman Tyler Linderbaum.
Michigan State RB Kenneth Walker III named a first-team All-American by The Athletic: https://t.co/vaOW4f2MYq— Colton Pouncy (@colton_pouncy) December 8, 2021
Similarly, Walker was one of three players on offense in the Big Ten to be named to ESPN’s All-American team. Walker made the list at running back, along with Purdue’s David Bell at wide receiver, and Iowa’s Tyler Linderbaum at center. Five total players from the Big Ten earned the ESPN honors between offense, defense, and special teams.
Walker is also a finalist for the Doak Walker Award and the Maxwells Award, both of which will be announced later tonight, Thursday, Dec. 9.
In addition to Walker, redshirt freshman linebacker Cal Haladay was named by The Athletic as a Freshman All-American.
Haladay started in 11-games for Michigan State this season after playing a limited role on special teams last season. Even more impressively, Haladay played more than 800 snaps on defense this season. He notched 85 tackles, five tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and one interception that he returned for a 30-yard touchdown.
Haladay was one of three players on defense out of the Big Ten to earn the honors, the other two being Iowa defensive tackle Lukas Van Ness and Ohio State cornerback Denzel Burke. There were five players from the Big Ten to earn first-team honors on offense, and five players among defense and special teams out of the Big Ten to earn second-team honors.