Michigan State QB Competition on Full Display at Spring Game

Michigan State QB Competition on Full Display at Spring Game

Michigan State QB Competition on Full Display at Spring Game

Michigan State wrapped up spring ball Saturday afternoon, with its quarterback battle on full display.
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EAST LANSING – A handful of specialists emerged from the Spartan Stadium tunnel before Payton Thorne accompanied them in warming up.

The redshirt sophomore was the first skill position player on the field before Michigan State started its open practice to wrap up spring ball Saturday afternoon.

Coach Mel Tucker didn't host a traditional spring game for 6,000 MSU fans, but plenty of competitions were on full display, including a battle brewing between Thorne and graduate transfer Anthony Russo.

The two quarterbacks received a bulk of the reps with the first-team offense during group work and live scrimmage periods.

Redshirt freshman Noah Kim was the third quarterback in rotation, followed by Theo Day and early enrollee freshman Hampton Fay.

"I thought (Thorne, Russo, and Kim) as well as Theo and Hamp Fay, I thought they all showed some good things," said Tucker. "They made some good throws, made some good decisions. I'm sure we had a couple throws that we'd like to have back, but just overall, I thought that we were efficient; they ran the offense, take what the defense gave us."

In the past, Tucker said the competition would likely leak into fall camp before the staff knows the direction they will go. However, time and time again, Thorne was the first quarterback to get snaps.

At 6-foot-2 and 215-pounds, Thorne appeared in three contests, primarily as a backup, before tossing three touchdowns for 325 yards against Penn State in the season finale. He showed off his deep ball during practice, connecting with Cade McDonald and Jayden Reed for long touchdowns. Though, he was also intercepted by Michael Dowell while making a throw on the run.

On the other hand, Russo posted a 16-10 record at Temple and left as one of the best signal-callers in school history, ranking third in completions, passing yards, and touchdowns.

After joining Michigan State in January, Russo said he holds an improved understanding of the offense. For the first time on Saturday, he performed in front of Spartan Nation and threw a nice 41-yard touchdown pass to Reed down the left sideline.

Now, he wants to take the next step before fall camp.

"I think the mental piece is going to be my biggest focus in this offseason; just hammering out film, watching myself, watching the other guys' reps from this spring, and learning from them ... just staying with throwing with the receivers, doing mesh stuff with the running backs to keep sharp on all that stuff, that way when that first day of fall camp comes, we're not trying to figure each other out anymore," Russo said. "That first day comes, and we're just ready to go."

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EAST LANSING – A handful of specialists emerged from the Spartan Stadium tunnel before Payton Thorne accompanied them in warming up.

The redshirt sophomore was the first skill position player on the field before Michigan State started its open practice to wrap up spring ball Saturday afternoon.

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