In the wake of Auburn football transfer Payton Thorne officially being named QB1 on August 17, his trainer, Jacksonville, Florida-based QB whisperer Will Hewlett, is confident the former Michigan State signal-caller can provide something to the position that has been absent for years.
“Auburn, I think, an upgrade in their passing game is something probably that would be helpful,” Hewlett said (h/t AL.com). “And not a knock on anyone that’s currently there, but I just know Payton will provide a different style of play that they haven’t had there in the last couple of years.” Hewlett took a slight shot at the Big 12 in explaining how Thorne’s development into a potential pro passer will not take a hit by seeing increased competition defensively due to the talent level of his own weapons.
“The good thing for Payton is he’s on an SEC team,” Hewlett said. “So what you might lose in terms of the lack of explosiveness that you’re seeing in the Big 12 and the other conferences, you’re gonna make up for it with the receiving corps and the skill positions on the offensive side are equally as explosive.”
Auburn football QB1’s trainer on why Payton Thorne left Michigan State
As Hewlett explained, the writing was on the wall at Michigan State, leading to a mutual parting of ways between Thorne and Spartans head coach Mel Tucker’s program.
“I know his last year was a tough year there,” Hewlett prefaced before saying, “He was dealing with a lot of bumps and bruises and little injuries he had to work through. Offensively, they lost some key weapons and they just weren’t the same team.
“I think it was mutual, they felt like change was coming. And I don’t know necessarily that he wasn’t going to be the starter at Michigan State. But I think he just needed a fresh start and kind of a different environment.”
Thorne’s touchdown total and passing yards went down and his interceptions went up despite completing two fewer passes in 2022 than he did in 2021. The weapons that helped lead Michigan State to a near-Big Ten Championship game berth were gone, namely, star RB Kenneth Walker and the time had come for the Spartans to regroup and start fresh.
The same is true for Thorne, who now has another star RB in the backfield with Jarquez Hunter as well as a fanbase starving for any competency at QB after T.J. Finley and an inexperienced Robby Ashford struggled against AU’s perennial woodchipper of a schedule in 2022. Thorne’s fresh start, though, figures to have a much wider audience than he’s ever been used to.