Michigan State football: Kenneth Walker III a Heisman Trophy candidate

(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
(Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

Michigan State football‘s star running back, Kenneth Walker III, has officially thrown his hat in the Heisman Trophy conversation.

Walker III is just one member of Michigan State football’s recent facelift exceeding expectations.  Head coach Mel Tucker and the Spartans utilized college football’s transfer portal flawlessly as they’ve quickly transitioned their lackluster roster left behind by Mark Dantonio to a top-ten team in the nation.

Not only are the Spartans getting tremendous production from sophomore quarterback Payton Throne, but also transfer players like Walker III, who currently leads the country in rushing, plus a dynamic playmaker in Jayden Reed as a receiver and kick returner.  The Spartans landed Reed from Western Michigan.

Walker III played with Wake Forest for his first two college seasons. Oddly enough, he recorded back-to-back 579 yard rushing seasons and as a freshman, Walker III averaged 5.9 yards per carry and totaled four rushing touchdowns.  In his second year with the Demon Deacons, Walker III averaged 4.9 yards per tote but scored a whopping 13 touchdowns.

Over his first seven games with the Michigan State Spartans, Walker III leads the nation with 997 rushing yards which translates to 6.6 yards per carry, plus he’s scored nine touchdowns. He’s also totaled 27 rushes of ten-plus yards. Walker III is not much of a pass-catching threat out of the backfield but has caught five balls for 25 yards adding one score.

The most impressive stat I can find on Walker III this season is that 737 of his 997 rushing yards have come after contact.

It didn’t take the star tailback long to garner national attention; he burst onto the scene in Michigan State football’s first game of the season, running for 264 yards and four touchdowns on the road against Northwestern.

He’s followed that performance with 172 yards on Miami, and he put 233 on Rutgers two weeks ago.  Walker III has seen a few contests where it was tough sledding, but Spartans offensive coordinator Jay Johnson continues to pound the rock even when things get muddy in the backfield.

Walker III was bottled up by a good Nebraska club, only galloping for 61 yards on 19 carries, plus 84 yards against Indiana on 23 chances this past weekend.

According to Pro Football Focus (PFF), Walker III has earned an elite overall grade of 87.7 thus far in 2021.

Kenneth Walker III of Michigan State football is firmly in the Heisman Trophy conversation.

Suppose you are wondering why we haven’t been driving the Walker III for Heisman bus until now. In that case, it’s because I wanted to wait until around the midway part of the season to see how he stacked up to those highly touted quarterbacks everyone had been salivating over before the start of the regular season.

Everyone had been gaga over Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler who began the season as the Heisman favorite, has since lost his job to Caleb Williams.  Along with Alabama’s Bryce Young, UNC’s Sam Howell were next on the list of preseason Heisman hopefuls.

According to WynnBET, Kenneth Walker III has the third-best odds to finish top-three in the Heisman Trophy voting at +280.  Walker III is tied with Desmond Ridder of Cincinnati behind Matt Corral, Bryce Young, and CJ Stroud.  Corral is the current favorite to win the award at +150.

Alabama’s Derrick Henry is the last running back to win the Heisman Trophy back in 2015 after rushing for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Next. Lions add former Michigan State Spartan to the practice squad. dark

Things will start to take shape for Walker III during the second half of the season.  The Spartans have dates with no. 6 Michigan, no. 25 Purdue, Maryland, no. 5 Ohio State, and no. 7 Penn State to finish the regular season.