Hugh Freeze: ‘I believe in our quarterback room’

Auburn football handled several needs this offseason, especially at wide receiver.

Following the additions of Cam Coleman, Perry Thompson, Bryce Cain, and Malcolm Simmons from high school and KeAndre Lambert-Smith and Robert Lewis from the transfer portal, Auburn fans and media members alike began to wonder if Auburn’s quarterback room would allow the new receivers to reach their full potential.

Hugh Freeze pondered that question also. When weighing the options, he decided to subscribe to the “bloom where you are planted” method and develop the stable of quarterbacks that are already on the roster. In a recent interview with Jox 94.5’s McElroy and Cubelic in the Morning, Freeze broke down his thought process when deciding to develop or go to the transfer portal this offseason.

“The options that you’re presented with: develop Payton (Thorne), develop Holden (Geriner), develop Hank (Brown), develop Walker (White), or go spend a million dollars on this guy, I just couldn’t bring myself to doing that, because I wanted to put all the pieces together,” Freeze said.

Following A-Day, Freeze made it apparent that Thorne will get the first nod at the position this season. Following a disappointing season in which he passed for 1,755 yards and 16 touchdowns with 10 interceptions, Freeze believes that the recent receiver additions will boost his production, citing his Michigan State targets Keon Coleman and Jalen Nailor as examples.

“I’ve watched (Thorne’s) Michigan State stuff 1,000 times, he had two NFL receivers and he was pretty danged good,” Freeze said. “There’s a lot of things that should be 50-50 balls and you’ve got to have a guy that can do that. I think Dre Lambert, he’s a 50-50 pass-catcher. And obviously, we’re excited about the ones we signed.”

Outside of receivers, Freeze says that newly-appointed quarterbacks coach Kent Austin will get Thorne, and every Auburn quarterback, to the right level.

“I believe in our quarterback room. I believe in Kent Austin,” Freeze said. “I believe if you have the right pieces around Payton that we can have success. I think you saw some glimpses of that, and I don’t think we had a total package around him really.”

In three seasons at Michigan State, Thorne passed for 6,501 yards and 49 touchdowns. In 2022, Thorne passed for 3,240 yards and 27 touchdowns with Buffalo Bills wide receiver Keon Coleman and Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Jalen Nailor as his top targets. It will be interesting to see how much of a step forward Thorne takes with a revamped wide-receiving corps.

Story originally appeared on Auburn Wire