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Michigan State QB battle unsettled, still 'fierce competition' for starting job

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

As Michigan State prepares to open the season at noon Saturday against Rutgers in Spartan Stadium, who will be under center remains an ongoing battle.

Spartans coach Mel Tucker said during his weekly press conference on Tuesday no decision has been made and that this week’s practice will be used to determine which player — fourth-year junior Rocky Lombardi, sophomore Theo Day or redshirt freshman Payton Thorne — gets the nod as Michigan State’s starting quarterback.

Rocky Lombardi

“We won't be announcing a quarterback today,” Tucker said during his virtual meeting with reporters. “There's been fierce competition at so many positions, including quarterback, and so as this week unfolds and a game plan is installed, we'll make a decision and then we'll go. We'll go play.”

More: From walk-on to potential starter, MSU's Drew Beesley in line for larger role

Lombardi has clear edge when it comes to experience, appearing in 16 games with three starts, those all coming in 2018 for an injured Brian Lewerke. However, outside of a win over Purdue two years ago, Lombardi has failed to lock down the top spot, opening the door for Day and Thorne with true freshman Noah Kim also figuring in, as well.

Day appeared in only two games last season, completing two passes for 12 yards against Penn State as a redshirt freshman while Thorne has yet to see the field, taking a redshirt last season but drawing consistently positive reviews from coaches last season and into preseason camp this year.

Early in camp, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jay Johnson suggested the quarterback battle was one that could go into the season.

“We’re gonna play who gives us the best chance to win,” Tucker said Tuesday. “So, we'll just have to see how this week unfolds. Obviously, the guys that we have a very capable. So, we're very fortunate to have multiple quarterbacks that we feel can get the job done.”

mcharboneau@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @mattcharboneau