Payton Thorne

© Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

Payton Thorne “taking it to another level” is bad news for the Big Ten

According to Xavier Henderson, Payton Thorne is “taking it to another level” with a ton of confidence in year two as QB1.

Having a confident quarterback is important. Even more important is having a confident quarterback with experience and the drive to get better.

Payton Thorne fits that exact description.

And according to Xavier Henderson, Thorne “is taking it to another level” this year and he “has all the confidence in the world” which is exactly what you like to hear.

There was a ton of uncertainty at quarterback a year ago. Would Anthony Russo start after transferring over from Temple or would it be Thorne who showed some flashes in 2020? Thorne took the reins from Week 1 and never looked back.

All Thorne did was pass for over 3,200 yards (third-best single-season in MSU history) and 27 touchdowns (No. 1 in single-season passing TDs). He had 10 interceptions and his completion rate could afford to improve, but he looked like a budding star. And yet, he’s been overlooked all offseason and even Pro Football Focus left him out of their ‘top 50 quarterbacks for 2022’ rankings.

But this statement from Henderson is further proof as to why that omission and all the Thorne disrespect is going to look silly.

A quicker, smarter, and more confident Thorne is bad news for the rest of the Big Ten.

Thorne broke records in his first year as a starter and now he’s even better, smarter, quicker, stronger, more confident, and he’s a better leader. The rest of the Big Ten may not be worried yet, but that’s a mistake.

We’re going to see Thorne really take off this year.

Whenever I see Big Ten quarterback rankings, it usually goes something like this:

  1. CJ Stroud, Ohio State
  2. Aidan O’Connell, Purdue
  3. Taulia Tagovailoa, Maryland
  4. Either one of Michigan’s two quarterbacks
  5. Payton Thorne

Heck, I’ve even seen him ranked lower. Remember when I said PFF didn’t list him as a top-50 quarterback for 2022? They listed Tanner Morgan (Minnesota) and Connor Bazelak (Indiana) ahead of Thorne. So that made him, at best, their seventh-best Big Ten quarterback for 2022.


Thorne had very few shortcomings as a starter in 2021 but he was hungry this offseason to improve. He became a more vocal leader, commanding respect from his peers, and he’s a more confident passer.

An improved Thorne who’s “taking it to another level” with “all the confidence in the world” is bad news for the rest of the Big Ten and great news for MSU.

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