Michigan State football's Kenneth Walker III declares for NFL draft, opts out of Peach Bowl

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Kenneth Walker III is one and done.

The Michigan State football star running back declared for the NFL draft and announced via Twitter on Thursday that he plans to skip the 10th-ranked Spartans’ Peach Bowl showdown with No. 12 Pitt on Dec. 30.

“It has been a true honor to represent Michigan State University and wear the Green and White,” Walker wrote in a statement. “I am beyond grateful to Coach (Mel) Tucker and the entire staff for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to shine under their leadership. As the regular season has come to a close, I would like to announce that I have decided to forgo playing in the Peach Bowl to begin preparation for the NFL Draft.

“I would like to thank God, my family, teammates, fans and all my coaches over the years for helping me become the player and man I am today. I will forever be a Spartan Dawg.”

The 5-foot-10, 210-pound Wake Forest transfer won the Walter Camp Football Foundation’s player of the year award, the Doak Walker Award as the nation's top running back and the Big Ten running back of the year, as well as earning unanimous first-team All-America honors and first-team All-Big Ten. He also was a finalist for the Maxwell Award as the nation’s most outstanding player and finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy voting.

Walker ranks second in the nation and first among Power 5 players at 1,614 rushing yards and 134.5 yards per game, and his 18 rushing touchdowns are tied for fifth in the Football Bowl Subdivision. He has led the nation in rushing for all but three weeks this fall and also leads the Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing yards after contact (1,154), carries of 20-or-more yards (21) and missed forced tackles (89).

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State's Kenneth Walker III declares for NFL draft