Michigan State transfer Payton Thorne named QB1 at Auburn

Transfer Payton Thorne will start the season at quarterback for Auburn, head coach Hugh Freeze said Thursday.

Thorne, formerly of Michigan State, was competing with returning starter Robby Ashford and redshirt freshman Holden Geriner.

“I’m excited to start Payton Thorne,” Freeze said, noting the information about Thorne being the starter being released earlier in the day was interesting.

“Only four of us knew,” said Freeze, in his first year at Auburn. “I believe that Robby and Holden, we can win games with any of the three.”

The Tigers open their season on Sept. 2 against visiting UMass.

Thorne, 22, was the starting quarterback for two seasons at Michigan State. In 29 career games with the Spartans (2020-22), he threw for 6,494 yards, 49 touchdowns and 24 interceptions with a 60.9 percent completion rate.

The Spartans won 16 games with Thorne as the starter. He was 11-1 with 31 total touchdowns in 2021.

That experience helped Thorne establish himself as the No. 1 quarterback for the Tigers, Freeze said, but he made it clear the decision wasn’t a commitment to a certain depth chart or pecking order for the duration of the season.

“The leadership ability, the understanding of the offense,” Freeze said. “He’s been in some really good battles. It seems like he was more efficient in decision making.”

Thorne announced his transfer to Auburn in May, after the Spartans’ spring game.

–Field Level Media