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Rockford native, former MSU star Kenny Willekes drafted by the Vikings

Kenny Willekes started as a walk-on at MSU. Now he's going to the NFL.

MIAMI — Kenny Willekes, the former MSU defensive end from Rockford, was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in Round 7 of the NFL draft. 

Willekes, a 6-foot-3 and 260-pound football player, has a history of proving doubters wrong. He started at MSU as a walk-on, then became a two-time All-American. And now, he's going to the NFL.

As the 11th pick in the round and the No. 225 overall, Willekes will be joining another West Michigan native and Spartan alum on the field, Holland's Kirk Cousins. 

As a sophomore, Willekes led the team with 14.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks in 2017. He was named the Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2018 after he finished in the top 10 nationally. 

He was only the second Spartan to win that award. 

Willekes' career hit a snag when he broke his leg in MSU's RedBox bowl game at the end of 2018. But he returned to play in all 13 games in 2019, in which he had 16 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks among a total of 78 stops. 

Willekes is a 2015 graduate of NorthPointe Christian High School in Grand Rapids. 

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