East Lansing, MI—For the 80th straight NFL Draft (1941), the Michigan State Spartans have had at least one player selected. A great tradition that has the Spartans as one of just four schools with at least one player chosen every year since the inception of the common NFL Draft in 1967. The other schools are Florida, Michigan, USC.
Spartan Kenny Willekes, a defensive end, was selected by the Minnesota Vikings in the seventh round. He was the No. 225 overall pick in the 2020 National Football League Draft today.
Willekes was a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection. In his career, Willekes finished ranked No. 1 in Spartan history with 51 tackles for loss and third with 26 sacks. He also earned All-America honors twice from the Walter Camp Football Foundation, and he was named the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year as a junior.
Willekes discussed walking on at Michigan State and how he fought his way up to the Big Ten defensive lineman of the year to now being a late-round pick in the NFL. “No doubt. I went through the same thing walking on at Michigan State University.
I am no stranger to adversity, and I am no stranger to hard work. It doesn’t matter to me. I said this many times during the process that it doesn’t matter to me where I get picked.
Whatever team picks me, whatever team takes a chance on me, I am going to show up, and I am going to be all in, and I am going to be ready to work.”
Willekes added about playing with fellow Spartan Kirk Cousins, who is the Vikings quarterback, “He (Cousins) is most definitely a Michigan State legend, and he set the path from Michigan State to the NFL. He’s also from West Michigan, and I had the opportunity to go to his Holland Christian seven-on-seven and meet him there when I was in high school.
So getting to play with him in Minnesota is like a dream come true. He is someone I looked up to a lot growing up.”
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