Payton Thorne Secures Starting Quarterback Position at Auburn, Beating Competitor Robby Ashford
Auburn’s Head Coach, Hugh Freeze, made an announcement on Thursday that Payton Thorne, the transfer quarterback from Michigan State Spartans, has triumphed in the race for the coveted starting quarterback role. Thorne emerged victorious over Auburn’s Robby Ashford and his inaugural appearance as the Tigers’ starter is set for their season opener against UMass Minutemen on September 2.
Thorne arrives at Auburn with a commendable background, having served as a two-year starter for the Michigan State Spartans. His successful transfer to Auburn in May further elevated his prospects. The former three-star recruit concluded the 2022 NCAA Football season with notable achievements, tallying 2,679 passing yards and 19 touchdowns through the air. His performance against the Washington Huskies, where he achieved an impressive 323 passing yards during a match ending in a 39-28 loss, showcased his capabilities.
Thorne’s blend of leadership qualities, his adeptness with the offensive playbook, and his proven track record in demanding battles solidified his selection. The decision to appoint him as the starting quarterback for Auburn was influenced by his efficient decision-making, not to discredit the other contenders who showed their mettle during the competition.
Payton Thorne Lands Sixth Spot on Michigan State’s Career Passing Yards List; Potential Key Match for Auburn’s Passing Game
Payton Thorne secured a noteworthy sixth rank on Michigan State’s historical list of passing yards. His prowess in passing presents an exciting prospect, potentially offering a strong alignment with an offense that concluded with a modest average of 172.7 passing yards per game. This statistic placed the team at a lowly 119th position in the NCAA and marked them as the last in the SEC rankings. The team’s points per game, standing at 24.8, set a comparable pace to the Missouri Tigers, positioning them around ninth place within the conference.
In the coming 2023 season, Quarterback Robby Ashford will once again don the Auburn colors. In the 2022 season, he showcased his skills across 12 games for the Auburn Tigers, registering notable numbers of 1,613 passing yards and 710 rushing yards. Ashford’s versatility shone brightly, with instances of 337 yards thrown in a single game against LSU and an impressive 121 yards rushing in a game against Alabama.
Ashford’s previous season witnessed him primarily leading Auburn’s offensive charge, making appearances in all 12 games. His dynamic running abilities were evident, as he tallied an impressive 710 rushing yards and secured seven rushing touchdowns. However, his passing prowess resulted in seven touchdown throws juxtaposed with seven interceptions. While he faces a challenge for playing time, Ashford’s determination remains steadfast, positioning him to vie for the starting quarterback position again.
Coach Hugh Freeze is molding his team for optimal performance in the upcoming season opener. Anchored by three capable play-callers, his vision is to foster a collective effort to propel the team toward success.
Ashford Assigned to Lead Second Unit as Quarterback
“With Utmost Conviction, I Believe Robby Ashford Brings a Stronger Winning Edge,” stated Freeze, emphasizing Ashford’s potential and unique athletic attributes at the quarterback position. Freeze continued by expressing his hope that Ashford would take this announcement in stride, persevere in his efforts, and further nurture his development. He openly regarded Ashford as possibly the most exceptional athletic talent he has encountered in the quarterback role.
Auburn faced a challenge in the realm of passing offense, ranking a disappointing 119th nationally in the previous season with an average of 172.7 yards per game. Elevating the passing game stood as a central goal for Freeze during his inaugural season as the Tigers’ head coach.
Clarifying the distribution of responsibilities, Freeze outlined his plan for Thorne to take the reins of the starting unit’s repetitions leading up to the season opener. On the other hand, Ashford would predominantly focus on work with the second unit, with additional opportunities extended to redshirt freshman Holden Geriner. Geriner was noted as possessing the most natural passing skills among the trio.
Trentyn Thorne, as he enters his fifth season of college football, marks his progression with notable achievements. His standout performance emerged in 2021 during his time with Michigan State, amassing 3,240 passing yards and 27 touchdowns. These contributions played a pivotal role in steering the Spartans to 11 victories under Coach Mel Tucker’s guidance. Thorne’s journey took a new direction following his decision to enter the transfer portal after spring practice earlier this year. His choice was influenced by the competition for the starting role at Michigan State, where he contended with sophomore Noah Kim.
Auburn’s Quarterback Shuffle Navigated Through Top Talent
In recent years, Auburn’s quarterback position has witnessed several changes. While playing at Oregon, Bo Nix, currently a contender for the Heisman Trophy, held the role of Auburn’s starting quarterback from 2019 to 2021. However, his tenure experienced a degree of instability as he was temporarily sidelined during 2021, only to return as the starter before an ankle injury curtailed his season. Subsequently, he embarked on a new chapter, transferring to Oregon to join the Ducks.
TJ Finley, who initiated his collegiate journey at LSU, assumed the role of Auburn’s starting quarterback at the outset of the 2022 season. Yet, he eventually yielded the position to Ashford. Finley, subsequently, chose to transfer and is now affiliated with Texas State.