The Michigan State Spartans’ starting tailback, Kenneth Walker III, is having a good week. Less than seven days ago, the junior transfer from Wake Forest had not even been named as a starter for MSU (mostly because head coach Mel Tucker didn’t reveal any starters). But, from literally the first play from scrimmage on Friday night against the Northwestern Wildcats, it was apparent that he was a star in the making.
On Wednesday morning, it was announced that Walker has earned the Maxwell Player of the Week Award for his performance in Michigan State’s 38-21 win over Northwestern. This accolade comes on the heels of Walker being named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week on Monday.
— Maxwell Football (@MaxwellFootball) September 8, 2021
Michigan State tailback @Kenneth_Walker9 had a debut to remember.
➖ 264 rushing yards
➖ 11.5 yards per carry
➖ 4 rushing touchdowns #GoGreen #MaxwellFootball pic.twitter.com/mgGJTDd5MJ
Walker’s stat line for the game was truly eye-popping. He rushed for a total of 264 yards on 23 total carries for an average of 11.5 yard per attempt. He also scored four of MSU’s five total touchdowns for the game.
To put Walker’s accomplishments against the Wildcats into perspective, Michigan State has not had a running back cross the 200-yard mark since Le’Veon Bell did it in 2012. Walker is also the first tailback to score four rushing touchdowns in a game since Edwin Baker in 2010.
Furthermore, 264 yards exceeds the total rushing yardage that MSU’s leading rusher (Jordon Simmons) had during entire, shortened 2020 season. MSU also failed to reach the end zone on the ground at all in 2020. Walker also set the record for most rushing yards for a player making their Spartan debut.
The Maxwell Player of the Week Award is given out by the Maxwell Football Club, which describes itself as “one of the oldest and most prestigious football clubs in America, honoring excellence at all levels of football since 1935.”
The club is responsible for several annual awards, including the Maxwell Award (for College Player of the Year), the Chuck Bednarik Award (for Defensive Player of the Year) and the George Munger Award (for College Coach of the Year).
Walker and the Michigan State Spartans return to action Saturday, Sept. 11 for the home opener against Youngstown State. The game will be televised on the Big Ten Network and kicks off at noon.