Michigan State All-American RB Kenneth Walker entering draft

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan State All-America running back Kenneth Walker is skipping the Peach Bowl against Pittsubrgh and his senior season to enter the NFL draft.

Walker made the announcement in social media posts on Thursday.

Coach Mel Tucker said earlier this week that he was uncertain whether Walker would play for 11th-ranked Spartans against No. 13 Pittsburgh on Dec. 30 in Atlanta. Tucker supported the decision.

"I want to congratulate Ken for all his success and thank him for taking a chance on us," Tucker posted.

Walker, a Tennessee native, transferred from Wake Forest after his sophomore season and helped Tucker's turnaround. The Spartans won two games in Tucker's debut season last year that was shortened by the pandemic.

EAST LANSING, MICHIGAN - NOVEMBER 13: Kenneth Walker III #9 of the Michigan State Spartans runs up the field against the Maryland Terrapins in the first half at Spartan Stadium on November 13, 2021 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Mike Mulholland

Michigan State won 10 games this year, including handing rival Michigan its only loss.

"I am beyond grateful to coach Tucker and the entire staff for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to shine under their leadership," Walker wrote.

Walker ran for 1,636 yards, second in FBS, and ranked among the nation’s leaders with 19 touchdowns. He had 579 yards rushing in each of his two seasons at Wake Forest and scored 17 touchdowns.

The junior jumped to the top of the Heisman Trophy watch lists after scoring five touchdowns in a win over the Wolverines and finished sixth in the voting last week.

He was named Walter Camp player of the year and became the first Spartan to win the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s best running back. Walker and Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud shared AP’s Big Ten co-offensive players of the year honors.