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Payton Thorne reportedly transferring to Auburn “soon”

Well, that was quick.

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Payton Thorne
© Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

After just a couple of days in the transfer portal, Payton Thorne is reportedly transferring to Auburn “soon.”

Former Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne is reportedly transferring to Auburn to continue his playing career “soon.”

It’s no secret that Thorne had his ups and downs during his time at MSU, but I hope he will be remembered more for the positives he brought to our program rather than the negatives.

Thorne played three seasons at Michigan State while starting every game the previous two years. The hype surrounding Thorne was growing during the 2020 COVID-19 season as he played in spells to replace struggling Rocky Lombardi. During the 2020 season, Thorne completed 48-of-85 passes for 582 yards and threw three touchdowns and three interceptions.

The excitement surrounding Thorne really began after his great performance in his one start of the 2020 season at Penn State. Even though the Spartans lost, Thorne played a great game going 22-for-39 with 325 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. Even in a loss, this had Spartan Nation very excited about him becoming the full time starter in the 2021 season, and us fans were not let down.

The 2021 season was one for the record books as MSU completed its best season since 2015, going 11-2 including a top-10 win against Michigan and Peach Bowl victory against Pitt. Not only will this team be remembered, but Thorne was able to etch his name into the record books by setting the single-season passing touchdown record with 27. MSU has had some elite quarterbacks in recent history including Kirk Cousins and Connor Cook, so the fact Thorne holds this record is very impressive. The star of this team, however, was undoubtedly Kenneth Walker III, but expectations were still sky-high heading into the 2022 season even with K9 departing.

Unfortunately those expectations were not met as the Spartans limped to a 5-7 record. Payton Thorne also regressed this season only throwing 19 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions. MSU did play better later in the season including an upset win against a ranked Illinois team on the road, but a late season blunder against Indiana kept the Spartans out of bowl eligibility.

With the season ending early, questions were already beginning to circulate if Thorne was the right guy for the job heading into the 2023 season. MSU has a very good quarterback room behind Thorne including Noah Kim and highly-ranked freshman Katin Houser, so to me it was no surprise seeing Thorne enter the transfer portal to look for a fresh start.

Auburn is that fresh start for him and he will have every chance available to earn their starting spot. Head coach Hugh Freeze is in his first season with the Tigers, so it’s no surprise that he wanted to bring in someone new to compete for the starting job.

Auburn was in an open quarterback battle throughout the spring between three different players, but one of these guys, T.J. Finley, just entered his name into the portal as well. This movement in the Auburn program makes it even more obvious why they would want to go out and get a veteran guy like Thorne to compete in their quarterback room.

I hope Payton Thorne is remembered by Spartan Nation for the great wins and memories he gave us over the past three seasons. Yes, it may have been time to move on from him to give our young quarterbacks a chance to prove themselves, but I wish Thorne nothing but the best at Auburn and hope he is able to not only win the starting job, but lead the Tigers to a great season.

Lead writer for Spartan Shadows since April 2023, writing over 450 articles. Michigan State basketball, football and recruiting expert. Class of 2019 graduate from Michigan State University specializing in Sports Management. Daily MSU runs a popular X page (@daily_msu) covering all things MSU Sports.

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