GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Kenny Willekes has gone from Michigan State walk-on to college All-American and will soon hear his name called at the NFL Draft.
“It’s something that I’ve been working on for a long time,” said Willekes, a former NorthPointe Christian player.
“My dad always taught me if you’re going to put your name on something, if you’re going to try to do something, give it everything you’ve got. And that’s what I feel I’ve done. I went to Michigan State. I wanted to go in there and prove myself, earn a spot on the team, earn a scholarship. Once I did that, the next step was to earn a starting spot, earn playing time. And then once I did that, I wanted to have a shot at the NFL, when it was all said and done. And you know I was able to put in the work. I surrounded myself with good people that pushed me and I was able to put in the work and put myself in this position.”
Willekes has often been described by NFL analysts as a player who gives great effort and has a nonstop motor but lacks athleticism for the NFL level.
With Kenny, like everyone else, unable to hold a Pro Day or go to workout for specific teams, Willekes posted a video on Twitter in late March, showing his athleticism, alongside some of those not so flattering quotes.
“I use that as motivation,” Willekes said. “It doesn’t matter if someone’s going to doubt me or say good job and pat me on the back, I’m still going to give it everything I have. But having that little bit of extra chip on your shoulder, that pushes me a little bit harder. That helps me. There’s a lot of people that say I’m not athletic enough, that I can’t do this, can’t do that. I think I have a pretty unique athletic skill set with my mobility and the way I can move my body and play defensive end, and I was hoping this video would kind of show people that.”
Most NFL teams hold ‘rookie minicamps’ with their new draftees, shortly after the draft. While the coronavirus will prevent that this season, Willekes says he has to keep training just in case.
“It’s definitely a little bit different,” Willekes said. “But even through this uncertain time, I still have to make sure I’m prepared and ready to go. I’ve been working out in a private gym, continuing to work out six days a week, so when we can get back to regular activities and when it is time for me to go to an NFL camp, I’m ready to go, ready to compete.”