Payton Thorne reflects on ‘healthy’ quarterback competition

Payton Thorne was thought to be the missing piece to Auburn’s offense when he transferred in from Michigan State.

Last Thursday, it was confirmed by head coach Hugh Freeze that Thorne would take the first snap of Auburn’s season-opener against UMass on Sept. 2.

Thorne spoke with the media on Thursday, which was the first time he has spoken publically since joining the program. He fielded several questions regarding his transfer, but most were directed toward the quarterback competition. Thorne says that he emerged with respect for his challenger, Robby Ashford, following the battle.

“I thought it was good, a good, healthy competition,” Thorne said Wednesday. “I don’t think it was anything that was toxic like sometimes quarterback competitions can be. I have a lot of respect for (Ashford). We’re still obviously talking and everything is still good. But it was a good competition.”

After Hugh Freeze announced Thorne as the starter, he went on to say that Ashford put together three strong practices, which he views as a way for Ashford to challenge Thorne for the starting quarterback job. Does Thorne feel threatened?

“I don’t think that matters, personally, because you’re already thinking that yourself. It’s not like you get the job and you’re like, ‘Whew, now I can relax and do nothing.’ You’re still playing. You’re still trying to play well. I’m focused on playing well for our team to win games. I’m not trying to play well to keep my job. If you’re looking at it like that, it’s like, why are you playing? You’re not playing just to keep your job. You play to win. I’ll be working as hard as I’ve ever worked right now. There’s no relaxing or just chilling. We’ve got a big season ahead of us with a lot of great opponents. I’ve always thought I’ve needed to be on my game, so that doesn’t change. That’s the mindset that I’ll take.”

Thorne passed for 6,501 yards and 49 touchdowns in three seasons at Michigan State.

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