By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer
Michigan State running back Kenneth Walker III wasn’t invited to New York as a Heisman Trophy finalist but he still captured one of the biggest honors in College football.
Walker was named the Walter Camp Player of the Year award, and also Doak Walker Award winner, which is presented annually to the nation’s most outstanding running back.
“I’m extremely honored and grateful to be named the winner of these two prestigious awards,” said Walker. “I wouldn’t be here today without the love and support from my family – they have believed in me from day one. I want to thank Coach (Mel) Tucker, Coach (William) Peagler, and all of my coaches and teammates for welcoming me to Michigan State. I also want to thank all of the Spartan fans for their support. This has been a special year for me to be able to wear the Green and White and represent Michigan State.”
The offseason transfer addition from Wake Forest has 263 carries for 1,636 yards and 18 touchdowns and ranks second in the nation in both rushing yards and rushing yards per game (136.3).
The 5-10, 184 pounder is the first Spartan to win the Walter Camp Player of the Year award. Though this award began in 1967. Walter Camp is America’s oldest All-American Team which began in 1889.
The Arlington Tennessee native is only the ninth Big Ten player to be named the Walter Camp Player of the Year and the first since Troy Smith of Ohio State in 2006. He is also the first running back to win the award since Derrick Henry of Alabama in 2015. The Walter Camp Player of Year is voted on by the nation’s 130 Football Bowl Subdivision head coaches and sports information directors.
Defensive tackle Jordan Davis, Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett and Alabama quarterback Bryce Young were all finalists Walker is also the first Michigan State player to win the Doak Walker Award, which has been given out since 1990. Javon Ringer was a finalist in 2008 while Le’Veon Bell was a semifinalist in 2012. Missouri’s Tyler Badie and Iowa State’s Breece Hall were the other Doak Walker finalists this year.