Hugh Freeze, Auburn’s head coach, saw former Michigan State quarterback Payton Thorne transfer into the program this past week following TJ Finley’s departure.

Thorne was a surprise portal entry at Michigan State. He was the Spartans’ starter last year and seemed to be in a QB battle with Noah Kim for the starting job. For whatever reason, whether it be fit or losing the battle to Kim, Thorne decided to enter the portal.

He ended up at Auburn not long after and immediately became a favorite to win the starting job, though Robby Ashford may have something to say about that.

Freeze weighed in on what Thorne brings to the table Wednesday, talking with reporters at the 2023 Regions Pro-Am fundraiser. According to Tigers beat writer Nathan King, a lot stands out about Thorne to Freeze:

“His leadership, his experience, his toughness, his football IQ,” Freeze said. “I just think he’s won football games in a very good conference, and I think it elevates that room. I’ve said it’s all about competition and again I want to say: I’m excited about Robby (Ashford). I’m excited about Holden Geriner. I look forward to that competition that’s going to make us all better if handled the right way. I think it definitely improved us.”

Freeze also went on to add that Thorne is “probably more proven than any (transfer QB) I’ve had before.”

How so? Thorne’s resume at Michigan State speaks for itself. Across 3 seasons in East Lansing, Thorne has thrown for  6,494 yards with 49 touchdowns and 24 interceptions. Last season he had a QB rating of 131.2.

While those are not NFL QB numbers, Thorne’s proven to be more than enough to win football games at Michigan State. Alongside Kenneth Walker, Thorne led the 2021 Spartans to an 11-2 record and Peach Bowl victory over Pitt. That was also easily his best season in college football, finishing the year with 27 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and a QBR of 1481.

In other words, get Thorne can thrive in a good system with good weapons.