Kenny Willekes Continues To Show Spartan Toughness

Kenny Willekes Continues To Show Spartan Toughness

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Kenny Willekes Continues To Show Spartan Toughness

Michigan State’s junior defensive end from Rockford, Michigan continues to add chapters to one of the better Spartan football stories in years. His performance against Indiana is the latest example of how Kenny Willekes is a great example of Spartan toughness and commitment. \

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Has anyone ever asked Michigan State menace Kenny Willekes if he chose his jersey number realizing to whom it belonged years ago?

It’s possible that Willekes didn’t know that from 1986-1989, Percy Snow put fear into opposing offenses when he roamed the middle as a four-year letter-winner, three-year starter, and consensus All American his junior and senior years as a member of George Perles’s finest and fiercest defenses for Michigan State all while wearing #48 for the Green & White.

It’s possible that Willekes – originally a walk-on who was not recruited and might have received .37 stars in the aggregate from the geniuses – never knew that Percy Snow led Michigan State to three straight bowl games (the 1988 Rose Bowl where he was named the MVP, 1989 Gator Bowl, and the 1989 Aloha Bowl) and was Michigan State’s leading tackler for three straight seasons (1987-1989).

It’s also possible that Willekes wasn’t aware of the fact that Percy Snow was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

The fact that Kenny Willekes wears #48 for Michigan State, however, is perfectly appropriate since Willekes is the latest Spartan to demonstrate toughness, dedication, commitment, and power in ways that have to make Percy Snow proud.

This past Saturday during Michigan State’s 35-21 win over Indiana, Willekes led the nation in QB pressures for the week with 12.

Those 12 pressures went along with the 5 solo tackles, the three assists, the 1 sack, and the 2 tackles for loss he registered over the course of the night against the Hoosiers.

Three games into the season, Willekes has 3 sacks as he has practically willed the Spartans defensive front to a steady improvement since the 2106 team’s inability to get to the quarterback.

The fact that Willekes entered the program as a walk-on is shocking to anyone that spends a moment or two watching him play.

Like a jet-fueled monster, he attacks from a low center of gravity, stays low throughout his penetration on throwing downs, and almost always brings down the quarterback or ball carrier from the legs down.

You rarely see Willekes upright and pounding into ball carriers above the waist – he’s coming from the lowest point of the action, almost as if he’s “slipping” past the bigger, more highly touted, and more heavily recruited offensive linemen that he regularly beats off the ball.

There isn’t any “slipping” past anyone, however.

Willekes is all power, strength, and, yes, speed.

But to say that he “sneaks” by the beefeaters he’s going up against is to suggest there is something “slippery” about the way he just plain beats guys.

We have one, somewhat important critique about the 2018 version of Willekes – we preferred the mullet-type of hair he rocked prior to this season’s cleaner look.

To some of us, it feels like Willekes has been a permanent fixture on the Michigan State defensive line for a decade.

The fact that this kid is a junior and has another full season in Green & White means that we get to watch the continued improvement, the continued power, the continued leadership, and the continued demonstration of Spartan toughness.

For right now, Willekes’s individual performance, combined with the increased pressure shown by the entire Spartan defensive line, against Indiana illustrated that Michigan State’s pass rush is very much alive and well.

Willekes will make sure that the progress – personally and across the team – will continue.

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