MSU's Kenneth Walker III sets first NFL goal: "Rookie of the Year"


Kenneth Walker IIII is his own running back, a fleet-footed bull who transferred to Michigan State last season and burned the Big Ten. He doesn't try to be -- or need to be -- anybody but himself. But he does watch highlights of fellow backs, two in particular: Saquon Barkley and Adrian Peterson.

Like Barkley in 2018 and Peterson in 2007, Walker wants to be the first running back taken in this year's NFL Draft.

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"Just another goal of mine, to be the first running back off the board," Walker told CBS Sports at this week's scouting combine. "All the work that you put in, it's showing, so it would mean a lot to me to see that."

And why should NFL teams consider Walker the best back in the draft, over say, Texas A&M's Isaiah Spiller or Iowa State's Breece Hall?

"I feel like I’m just an all-around back," Walker said. "My vision, my cutting ability, I feel like it’s second to no one, and I’m able to hit home run plays."

Whether or not Walker fulfills his goal at next month's draft, he has a bigger one in mind in his first NFL season.

"My main goal is, I want to be rookie of the year,” Walker told reporters this week.

And how does he plan on doing it?

“Hard work and dedication,” he said. “I've got to get in the weight room and work hard, but I’ve also got to get in the playbook and learn the plays as soon as I can.”

That was no problem for Walker last season after arriving from Wake Forest. He quickly picked up the Spartans' pro-style offense and rushed for 264 yards and four touchdowns in his first game en route to being named a first-team All-American and winning the Doak Walker Award as the top running back in the country.

You could say he was Rookie of the Year in the Big Ten, where he also shared Offensive Player of the Year honors with Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud.

Now he just has to do it in the NFL.

Featured Image Photo Credit: © Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK