Michigan State football names Willekes its Most Valuable Player

Published 8:58 am Wednesday, November 28, 2018

EAST LANSING — The Michigan State football program held its 2018 awards banquet on Sunday afternoon before a crowd of more than 650 at the Kellogg Center on campus.

Junior defensive end Kenny Willekes was selected Most Valuable Player (Governor’s Award recipient) by his teammates. Willekes, who leads the Big Ten in tackles for loss with 20.5, becomes the first-ever Spartan defensive end to win the Governor’s Award, which has been given out since 1931.

Here are the top award winners:

Governor’s Award (Most Valuable Player)

Junior DE Kenny Willekes

Becomes the first Spartan defensive end to win the Governor’s Award . . . leads Big Ten in tackles for loss (20.5 for 84 yards), which ranks seventh in FBS . . . ranks fourth in the Big Ten in sacks (8.5 for 60 yards) . . . leads all conference defensive linemen with a career-high 76 tackles.

Downtown Coaches Club Award


Defensive Player

Junior LB Joe Bachie

Leads MSU and ranks tied for 10th in Big Ten with 94 tackles . . . team captain on a defense that ranks No. 1 in the FBS in rushing defense, No. 14 in scoring defense and No. 14 in total defense . . . playmaker has 8.5 tackles for loss, five pass break-ups, three forced fumbles, one interception and one fumble recovery . . . named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week vs. Maryland (seven tackles, two TFLs, three forced fumbles).

Downtown Coaches Club Award

Outstanding Offensive Player

Sophomore RB Connor Heyward

Named one of five finalists for the Paul Hornung Award (nation’s most versatile player) . . . leads MSU in all-purpose yards (1,056), rushing yards (520), rushing TDs (5) and kick returns (287), while ranking third with 32 receptions for 249 yards . . . named Spartan Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 157 yards and two touchdowns at Maryland, including an 80-yard TD in the fourth quarter.

Downtown Coaches Club Award

Outstanding Special Teams Player

Sophomore PK Matt Coghlin

Lou Groza Award semifinalist . . . has made 16-of-19 field goals (.842) . . . ranks among Big Ten leaders in field goals made (third with 16), field-goal percentage (third at .842) and scoring (ninth at 7.0 ppg) . . . named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week vs. Indiana.

President’s Award (Senior Lineman/Senior Back Perseverance)

Offense: Senior TE Matt Sokol

Has played in 51 career games, including 22 starts at tight end . . . three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection has graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics and will finish his Spartan career with a master’s degree in marketing research . . . caught an 18-yard touchdown on Senior Day vs. Rutgers.