EAST LANSING, Mich. – Michigan State senior defensive end Kenny Willekes has been named the National Defensive Player of the Week, the Walter Camp Football Foundation announced on Sunday.
Willekes, the 2018 Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year and a first-team preseason All-American by numerous organizations, started off his senior season strong as the Spartan defense dominated Tulsa in the 28-7 MSU win.
Willekes scored his first career touchdown after teaming up on a sack with Raequan Williams and pouncing on the fumble in the end zone to give MSU a 22-0 lead with 4:49 left in the second quarter. Earlier in the second quarter, he recovered a fumble after a bad Tulsa snap to set up an MSU field goal.
The Rockford, Michigan, native also had a 1-yard tackle for loss in the second quarter and a 2-yard sack in the fourth quarter. Overall, Willekes led the Spartans with seven tackles, including 2.5 TFLs (6 yards) and 1.5 sacks (5 yards).
For his career, Willekes has 37.5 tackles for loss and 17 sacks in just 28 games. He ranks third among all active players in the FBS with 1.34 TFLs per game.
As a team, Michigan State held Tulsa to minus-73 yards rushing, a school-record low for a Spartan opponent (previous: minus-63 by Pittsburgh in 1950).
MSU (1-0) returns to action Saturday, Sept. 7 against Western Michigan (1-0) in Spartan Stadium at 7:30 p.m.; the game will be televised on BTN.