Payton Thorne never really got the proper goodbye after a solid two-year Michigan State football career.
When he entered the portal, fans immediately jumped ship to “finally, we get a new QB1” after an offseason full of speculation regarding the position. It was the coldest possible way to treat the former Spartan quarterback who went 16-9 over the past two seasons as a starter.
Thorne hit the portal last Sunday, much the surprise of the coaching staff and some of the players and he wasted no time in picking a new home: Auburn.
He committed to Auburn just five days after his transfer was reported.
And yet, no one seemed to bat an eye in the way that they did over losing Keon Coleman to the transfer portal. It felt wrong to just discredit everything Thorne did.
Believe it or not, he will be missed in East Lansing.
Michigan State fans should give Thorne some credit
Was Thorne the best quarterback? No. Was he the most unquestioned leader on the team? Not exactly. Could he take over games with his arm? Rarely. But he was solid and over his MSU career, he broke a school record and threw for 6,493 yards and 49 touchdowns, completing 61 percent of his passes.
Thorne’s interception rate in 2022 was a little high for many people’s liking, but he was working behind an inconsistent line. He did have a drop-off in accuracy on his short throws in 2022 despite his overall number going up, but in a “bad year” he still threw for 2,679 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Could his drop-off have been injury-related? That’s very possible and some might say likely. Could it have been the departure of Kenneth Walker III? Also very possible.
Either way, Thorne gave fans two solid years under center and his numbers would have put him in the record books at most schools. He helped turn Michigan State around in 2021 and give us some of our favorite moments as fans. He helped the Spartans come back to beat Michigan with some clutch fourth-down tosses and a two-point conversion and he worked some magic again in the Peach Bowl to cap off an 11-2 year.
Thorne is not just some scrub whose departure should have been celebrated. He helped Michigan State win 11 games for the first time since 2015 and broke a single-season passing touchdown record while also beating Michigan in his first try.
He will be missed in East Lansing.