Ladies and gentleman, we might have a star developing right in front of our eyes. Kenneth Walker has settled right in with the Michigan State Spartans, and with 5 touchdowns and 321 yards to his name already this season, he’s a star on the rise.
The Spartans have let all of college football know that they mean business so far this season, bullying Northwestern in week 1 in a game that they led from the very first snap and just never let go of. But it was Kenneth Walker who took the first snap of the game, and bolted 75 yards to the house, introducing himself to Michigan State fans in the process.
Walker transferred to MSU from Wake Forest amidst COVID-19, without even visiting the campus. He spoke with head coach Mel Tucker, and was made to feel right at home. Michigan State’s run game was poor in 2020, only managing two rushing touchdowns all season, neither of which came from a running back. So MSU had their work cut out in the off season to correct that. As a result, hype began to build around Walker before the season began, and he proved it was all justified on his debut.
Yes he found the end zone with his very first snap in Michigan State colours, but he wasn’t done there. He had a personal career game, and ended the night with 264 yards and 4 touchdowns, with an average of 11.5 yards per carry. Put plainly, he dominated. Watching the tape, I’m impressed, and I think the potential for Walker to grow this year is really substantial.
I’d like to know how fast this young man actually is… in fact, I don’t care how fast he is. I don’t need it measured, because I can see him running away from an entire defence with my own two eyes. I don’t need a speed gun or a stopwatch to quantify that for me. The first TD going 75 yards told me all about Kenneth Walker’s ability to flat out run. But the second one really impressed me too. The line collapsed as Walker took the snap around the 7 yard line. As he charged right up the middle, there wasn’t a lane. So he sticks his foot in the ground, and changes direction with some serious speed, bounces to the outside and finds pay dirt before anybody can even lay a hand on him.
The whole performance showed a wealth of his capabilities. Walker seems to stride right through tackles, not even breaking stride as defenders attempt to bring him down. Yards after contact are a big thing in his game too, and he leads the nation with 258 yards after contact currently.
I’ll tell you who he reminds me of. To me, he’s every bit of Saquon Barkley. Now that’s high praise, but their running styles are almost identical to me. Both run low to the ground, low centre of gravity with thick thighs and power making them tough to bring down. Both run straight through arm tackles and have high motors. But Saquon can change direction in a flash, just like Walker has showed he can do this season too. Then it’s the burst, to leave defenders behind and just flat out run through a gap, into open field and disappear. The two are so similar to me in what I’ve seen so far from Kenneth Walker at MSU, compared to Barkley at Penn State.
But he faces his biggest test this weekend, heading to Miami. If the Spartans win the game, they’ll knock Miami out of the rankings, and deserve to take their place. It’s a chance for the Spartans to make a real statement for anybody still doubting them, and I’m all for it. Kenneth Walker could be a huge part of that, and I’d love to see it.