Could Auburn Finally Have A QB Again? Michigan State’s Payton Thorne Transfers To The Plains

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Suddenly, Auburn may have a quarterback and a coach at the same time.

Bo Nix was the last consistently decent quarterback Auburn had. He started from 2019-21 before transferring to Oregon, where he started and played well last year and is the returning starter.

Auburn tried LSU transfer TJ Finley in 2021 and to start 2022, but after a shoulder injury he never regained his starting job last season. He entered the transfer portal as a graduate this week, and could possibly land at Ohio State.

Robby Ashford finished last season as the starter, but he did not necessarily keep the job during spring drills after competing with freshman Holden Geriner.

In other words, first-year coach Hugh Freeze basically did not have a real starting quarterback after replacing the disaster that was coach Bryan Harsin following the 2022 season.

Now, he does. Michigan State two-year starting quarterback Payton Thorne is headed to Auburn.


Thorne started 12 games in the 2022 season for Michigan State, which finished 5-7. His numbers were not great either. Thorne finished 75th nationally in efficiency at 131.2 on 242-of-387 passing for 2,679 yards and 19 touchdowns with 11 interceptions.

Payton Thorne Could Be The Answer At Auburn

But this is at least a start for Auburn. Thorne will have two years of eligibility remaining.

His 2021 season was better as he finished 11-1 as the starter and No. 47 in the nation in efficiency at 148.1 on 235-of-389 passing for 3,232 yards and 27 touchdowns against 10 interceptions.

Freeze had been looking for someone like Thorne for some time, and Thorne likely would have remained the starter had he stayed at Michigan State. His only competition was from previous backup Noah Kim.

And Thorne did not enter the portal until last Sunday – the last day to do so. Perhaps a lucrative Name, Image & Likeness deal happened.

And could Freeze be on his way?

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.

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