Thorne or Russo? Michigan State QB Battle Begins to Heat Up

Michigan State sophomore Payton Thorne and graduate transfer senior Anthony Russo begin quarterback battle.
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Michigan State head coach Mel Tucker has a problem right now, but it might be a good problem to have. Michigan State has two quarterbacks vying to be the starter week 1, which is less than a month away on a Friday night when the Spartans go to Northwestern for the season opener.

The two quarterbacks come from different backgrounds. Thorne was a class of 2019 prospect who flipped his commitment from Western Michigan to Michigan State a day before the 2018 Signing Day. Russo was a 2016 graduate now entering his sixth year of college. He started at QB the last three years at Temple.

Last season Thorne threw for 582 yards for a 56.5 completion percentage while throwing three touchdowns and three interceptions in just four games. Russo threw for 863 yards for a 68.1 completion percentage while throwing nine touchdowns and six interceptions.

The two quarterbacks stand at a different stature as well. Thorne is listed at 6-2, 210 pounds, while Russo is bigger at 6-4, 240 pounds.

There is no leader and there is no favorite in the race yet. Tucker said again today that they'll take it day by day and continue to monitor the situation by going over film as a coaching staff until they feel confident in their decision.


My early indication from the first day of camp is that it's Russo's job to lose. Coming from a good program and now in his sixth year as a graduate transfer, he is coming to Michigan State with a goal to play in his final season of college eligibility. The turnovers are a concern for Russo but with a little fine tuning and playing around better athletes, those can diminish.

This is a good problem to have as a Spartan fan. The team can only benefit from competitions like this. Both guys are well respected by the coaching staff and players on the team. I don't expect a two-quarterback system and Tucker said that again in his interview that they will have one guy for week 1.

Both players also talked about what it's like to not only be pushed by the coaching staff but also the competition that's facing them and have identified what they do well and also what they need to do better at for themselves and the betterment of the team.