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Grand Rapids native, former MSU star prepares for NFL Combine

Defensive end Kenny Willekes closes in on making NFL dreams become a reality.

Kenny Willekes knows what some are going to be thinking.

"My athleticism is a bit of a question just to some teams—just to see how I'm going to test," said the 6-foot-4, 260-pound football player.

It's something he's heard it ever since a leg injury in the 2018 Redbox Bowl.

"Having a lot of conversations with a lot of different teams, you hear a lot of different things," he explains.

But for the former MSU defensive end, it's all in one ear and out the other. After all, Willekes has a history of proving his doubters wrong.

Now this one-time walk-on from Grand Rapids is closing in on doing it again.

"Something I've been living by my whole life, no matter what they throw in front of me I'm going to give my all," said Willekes proudly.

With NFL combine starting Sunday, the 22-year-old Willekes is leaving nothing to chance. He's eating healthier than ever and putting in longer hours at the gym.

"The thing people need to understand about Kenny is that he's a competitor," said his trainer Mark Ehnis. "You know he's going to take every piece of information that he gets and turn it into something great."

To be clear, these are not easy exercises that Kenny is doing. One of the more difficult exercises is a push up, which doesn't seem all that bad. Then you add weights and you had chains and suddenly it's not fun at all.

"I think it gets more challenging as you keep going. Obviously, you still have the chains on you but that's another thing with the mindset. You know, throw more chains on! I'm going to knock it out," said Willekes.

The results speak for themselves. Since playing in the Senior Bowl a month ago, Willekes has dropped a percentage of body fat and gained 10 pounds.

"I think I'm going to erase some of those question marks at the combine," said Willekes.

You can doubt Kenny Willekes but it's at your own risk.

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