Search for Michigan State backup QB to continue at fall camp
Of all the positional battles that will reignite at the start of Michigan State’s training camp, the competition for backup quarterback isn’t the most urgent — it’s at the offensive line — or most congested – it’s probably the ball carrier. It is, however, one of the more interesting pockets on the roster, as the Spartans turn the page on an 11-2 season.
Consider the cast behind redshirt junior Payton Thorne, who returns after throwing for 3,233 yards and setting MSU’s single-season touchdown pass record (27) last fall. There are sophomores in red shirts Noah Kim, the last quarterback signed by former head coach Mark Dantonio’s staff; redshirt rookie Hamp Fay, the first quarterback signed by Mel Tucker and co.; and real freshman Katin Houserthe four-star gem of MSU’s 2022 recruiting class who arrived with as much hype as any Spartan quarterback in the past decade.
After 15 spring practices, Tucker said there was more assessment to be done before a quarterback depth chart fell into place.
“I don’t have a guy right now, so we’ll just have to get into the summer program and go to fall camp, see how it goes,” Tucker said afterward. Saturday late spring free practice.
Year 3 under Tucker will mark the first time MSU has entered a season without holding auditions for a starter under center. This draws attention to Job #2, where none of MSU’s replacements ever took a picture in college.
A year ago, MSU had the luxury of having a sixth-year senior with at least 30 career starts under his belt waiting in the wings as Anthony Russo’s replacement. Luckily for the Spartans, Thorne remained healthy enough to start all 13 games, and due to the nature of MSU’s season, with several close games in the fourth quarter, there were few opportunities to prepare the younger ones. passers-by from the list.
Earlier this spring, Thorne talked about feeling more secure in his role and more confident as a leader as a returning starter, someone who would lean in and help other quarterbacks improve. After open practice, Thorne gave a breakdown of each of his potential saves.
“I was thinking Noah Kim had a really, really strong spring,” Thorne said Saturday. “It was fun to play with him and talk to him about some stuff. He’s been very lively all spring, he hasn’t really had a day off. Hamp has done a good job, he comes in and he does things that the coach wants to see. And Katin was good to see. He’s a good guy, he’s fun to be around. Obviously he has a lot to learn in terms of attack because he just arrived here, but he got it right. He does a good job, he knows what he’s looking at for the most part on a lot of things, he learns fast and he’s a very talented passer. It’s fun to play with these guys -the.
Kim, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound from Centerville, Va., has periodically caught Tucker’s attention since he was a proper freshman. Tucker has occasionally gone out of his way to praise Kim since taking over the program, dating back to its freshman season when Kim, then a proper freshman, was not seen as a realistic competitor with Rocky Lombardi, Theo Day and Thorne.
“Noah has a lot of talent with his arms and he’s grown tremendously since he’s been here,” Tucker said. “It’s a competitive situation there. You see Katin (Houser) and Hamp and Noah there, they’re all very talented guys. I see he is ready to compete. He can throw it and he knows the system, so it’s just a matter of performing at a high level on a consistent basis.
MSU staff have identified Fay as a prime target for their first class of recruiting at East Lansing after offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jay Johnson got to see Fay pitch live while Johnson was in Colorado under Tucker. A 6-5, 220-pound product from Hudson Oaks, Texas, Fay was able to visit campus just days before the NCAA instituted a timeout in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He bought into the vision and became one of Tucker’s first engagements. After spending a season leading the scout team, Fay’s task is to familiarize herself with MSU’s system.
“He’s really grown as a player,” Tucker said. “I remember he came in as a bright-eyed, wide-eyed freshman and things were going pretty fast. Things are starting to slow down for him. Jay is doing a really good job with him and he’s developing. He’s an athletic guy, he’s got a good height, he’s got good arm strength, he can run. You can tell he’s taking command of our offense and his confidence is high. I’d love to see him continue to grow like this.
And Houser, with his Elite 11 credentials, might have the best edge of all of them. So far, he has the least experience with Johnson’s system. With no one moving forward this spring, Houser and MSU will be able to use training camp to see if his raw ability replaces rep value in the Spartans offense.
The battle to be the guy behind the guy in the sport’s most glamorous position will continue. Perhaps a natural sorting will occur before the Spartans reunite for training camp, as it’s quite rare in modern times for a program to have four stock quarterbacks, all of whom were drafted from outside. High School.
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