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MSU's Kenneth Walker III named finalist for two prestigious awards

"K9" could be bringing home some hardware after an incredible 2021 season

Michigan State tailback Kenneth Walker III has put together one of the most memorable campaigns from a Spartan tailback in history.

The transfer from Wake Forest was a transformative acquisition for Mel Tucker and Michigan State this offseason, as Walker has collected 1,498 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns through 11 games in 2021.

Walker’s efforts have been recognized nationally, as the tailback has been in the heat of the race for the Heisman Trophy since a breakout performance Week 1 against Northwestern. But the Heisman is not the only award that has the junior tailback in contention.

On Tuesday, Walker was named a finalist for two other prestigious individual awards – the Maxwell Award and the Doak Walker Award.

The Maxwell Award is given annually to the player deemed “the best in college football”. Joining Walker as finalists for this award are Alabama quarterback Bryce Young and Pittsburgh quarterback Kenny Pickett.

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Young has thrown for 3,584 yards and 38 touchdowns against just three interceptions for the Crimson Tide. Pickett, meanwhile, has thrown for 3,857 yards and 36 touchdowns against six interceptions for the Panthers.

The Doak Walker Award is given annually to the nation’s premier running back. Missouri’s Tyler Badie and Iowa State’s Breece Hall make up the finalists for this award alongside Walker.

Walker ranks second in the FBS in rushing, averaging 136.2 yards per game. He has led the FBS in rushing for all but two weeks of the 2021 season. His 1,498 rushing yards are the most by a Spartan since Jeremy Langford had 1,522 yards in 2014. Walker’s 17 rushing touchdowns are the sixth-most in a single season in MSU history, and his rushing total also ranks sixth in school history.

Badie has rushed for 1,385 yards and 13 touchdowns on 227 carries this season for Missouri, while Hall has carried 235 times for 1,230 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Walker is coming off a season-low in carries (6) and rushing yards (25) against Ohio State, after being hampered by an ankle injury that kept him out of the majority of the second half against the Buckeyes. His status for Michigan State’s regular season finale against Penn State remains unknown.

The Heisman Trophy has not released a set of finalists, but Walker is said to be in contention with the likes of Young, Pickett, Ohio State's CJ Stroud and others.