Michigan State QB Rocky Lombardi headed to Northern Illinois, DE Drew Beesley back in 2021

Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press
·3 min read

Rocky Lombardi has found a new home. Drew Beesley is keeping his same address.

Lombardi, who started at quarterback for six of Michigan State football’s seven games this season and led upset wins over Michigan and Northwestern, announced via Twitter on Sunday he is heading to Northern Illinois. The redshirt junior, who entered the transfer portal on Dec. 18, will have two years of eligibility remaining after the NCAA waiver for this season.

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After opening the season with back-to-back 300-plus yard games against Rutgers (319) and Michigan (323), Lombardi threw for just 448 yards passing in his final four starts, completing just 36 of 82 attempts (43.9%) and throwing two pick-sixes among his seven interceptions and just two TDs in those games. He finished with nine picks and eight touchdowns, sitting out the Spartans’ final loss at Penn State after getting knocked out late in the second quarter of their Ohio State loss a week earlier.

Lombardi started nine games in his four seasons, including three in 2018. He threw for 1,901 yards with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 22 career appearances at MSU. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound native of Clive, Iowa, completed 84 of 157 passes for 1,090 yards this season, adding 39 rushing yards on 32 carries.

After he announced he was leaving MSU, a number of his Spartan teammates wrote glowing posts about Lombardi on social media.

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Michigan State's Drew Beesley looks on after getting penalized for roughing Ohio State's quarterback Justin Fields during the second quarter on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.
Michigan State's Drew Beesley looks on after getting penalized for roughing Ohio State's quarterback Justin Fields during the second quarter on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing.

Beesley announced on social media earlier Sunday he plans to use that extra year of eligibility and remain a Spartan. As a fifth-year senior this fall, the 6-2, 260-pound Rochester Hills native and Warren De La Salle product started all seven games and led MSU’s defensive linemen with 399 snaps. Beesley finished at Penn State with a personal-best seven of his career-high 27 tackles, tying for the team lead on the season with three sacks and ranking second with 5.5 tackles for a loss.

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That could mean MSU returns both its starting defensive ends from this season, a position of need for coach Mel Tucker. Jacub Panasiuk, a fourth-year senior, has given cryptic hints on social media that he plans to return for a fifth season next fall. The 6-4, 250-pounder missed the Penn State loss after starting the first six games and recorded 25 tackles, 2.5 for a loss, and a sack with two QB hurries.

Tucker also last week added Duke grad transfer Drew Jordan, a 6-3, 270-pound defensive end from Suwanee, Georgia, who has started most of the past three seasons for the Blue Devils and has 102 tackles, 15 of them for loss, and 10 sacks in 48 career games.

Contact Chris Solari: csolari@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @chrissolari. Read more on the Michigan State Spartans and sign up for our Spartans newsletter.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan State QB Rocky Lombardi transferring to Northern Illinois