AMES, Iowa – Iowa State running back/kickoff returner Kene Nwangwu is on his way to the NFL.
The All-American kickoff returner, who broke the school record for career kickoff return average (26.8), was selected in the fourth round by the Minnesota Vikings as the No. 119 pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Nwangwu was also outstanding as All-American Breece Hall’s backup, tallying 339 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns, while averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
“Kene was among a unique group of seniors who were really special,” Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell said. “Kene has been through so much here at Iowa State. He had a great start to his career and then he tears his Achilles. It was a long tough road back for him and it wasn’t easy. To watch his leadership grow, see what he has done for our football program, and today, to see him get drafted, I am so thrilled for him.”
The Frisco, Texas native raised his stock dramatically after running a 4.31 in the 40-yard dash at Iowa State’s Pro Day. Utilizing his speed and athletic ability, Nwangwu earned fourth-team All-America accolades as a kickoff returner in 2020, ranking seventh nationally (minimum 10 returns) in kickoff return yardage (28.9).
He had five returns of 30+ yards, including two of 65 yards or longer that helped the Cyclones in a pair of come-from-behind wins. His 85-yard kickoff return vs. Oklahoma came after the Sooners took the lead in the fourth quarter. The return set up the tying touchdown in a game the Cyclones won 37-30.
Nwangwu ended his career with 2,470 kickoff return yards, the most in Iowa State history and third all-time in Big 12 history. He also rushed for 774 yards in his career.