Kenneth Walker Deserves to be a Heisman Finalist After Carrying the Spartans
After nearly 200 yards and five touchdowns in an epic win over in-state rival Michigan, Kenneth Walker III seemed a near Heisman lock. At the very least you thought he would be in New York. Fast-forward about five weeks and we find out Walker is not going to be a Heisman finalist.
Walker got passed on in place of Aidan Hutchinson, C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, and Kenny Pickett. Now, it is hard to argue against any of them being there. We just saw what Bryce Young did against a Georgia team that looked untouchable till their match-up. Hutchinson dominated Iowa and Ohio State, Pickett threw 42 touchdowns and it's hard to forget what Stroud did against the Spartans not too long ago.
Each one of the players listed above had a great year and is deserving of where they are. However, the same can be said about Walker. To start, at the beginning of the season, the Spartans were picked to finish dead last in their division. On top of that, Walker was a transfer and virtually an unknown. That all changed quickly after he scored on his first carry against Northwestern. Then he proceeded to rack up 264 yards and three more touchdowns. Walker became an instant impact the literal second he touched the ball. That success continued as the season went on as Walker averaged 136 yards on the season, along with finding the end zone 19 total times. Both those numbers ranked in the top five among all running backs this season.
To put his numbers into perspective, the last running back who won, Derrick Henry in 2015, rushed for 1,797 yards and 20 touchdowns. Better numbers, yes, but Walker's stats are not too far off. Henry had the added benefit of a championship game, whereas Walker did not. Walker was in high consideration all year, to not see him named as a finalist is a tad disappointing.
Again, this article is not to diminish the finalists' seasons; they all did great and deserve to be there. The most glaring question is, are they the most valuable to their teams? There is no question Walker is. Not to take anything away from Mel Tucker of course. Though it's safe to say MSU would not be in the position they are without Walker. Take Stroud off Ohio State, they are probably okay. Same with Young at Alabama. Hutchinson and Pickett have elevated their teams to a new level, but it's not a stretch to say Walker had a larger impact than them.
The Heisman Trophy is the most prestigious award in college football and given to the most outstanding player in the sport. Without Walker, the Spartans do not win ten games. He had a phenomenal season with great numbers. Sure maybe that doesn't mean he should outright win it. However, he at least deserved the chance to be there with the best of the best.