AUBURN – The news of Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze naming Michigan State transfer Payton Thorne as the starting quarterback for the Tigers is almost a week old, but Thorne had the chance to speak publicly on the decision on Wednesday.

"It was good to hear that from Coach (Freeze) and to have that conversation with him," Thorne said about how he felt when Freeze told him the news. "It was nothing crazy, not a long conversation. I'm always going to be competing and trying to play my best."

Thorne spoke about the competition between him and Robby Ashford for the starting role and was complimentary of his competitor.

"I thought it was a good, healthy competition," Thorne said. "I don't think it was toxic or anything like sometimes quarterback competitions can be. I have a lot of respect for Robby."

Thorne believes that his style of play is a good fit with the offense that Freeze likes to run.

"I think I'm an accurate quarterback," Thorne said. "We've been going fast and I feel like we're efficient doing that. With tempo stuff, I feel like that's been a plus in my game for the past two years."

Freeze has mentioned Thorne's noticeable leadership qualities and has emphasized that they factored into his decision to name him the starter. Thorne described how beneficial those qualities have been in helping him adjust to the new offense.

"I think it goes back to just being me and not trying to do too much," Thorne said. "Some guys hear the word leadership and think they have to go yell at everybody or do something crazy. Leadership comes in a lot of different shapes and sizes and there are a lot of different ways of doing it."

When Thorne first arrived in Auburn he carried around a binder with the names and faces of everyone who works in the football facility. He talked about his thought process in doing that and how it benefited him.

"Nobody gave me advice to do that," Thorne said. "I don't think you can lead within an organization if you don't know most people's names. If somebody passes me in the hallway I feel uncomfortable if I don't know their name. I feel like that's disrespectful in a way if you don't know everyone's name."

Thorne played for Mel Tucker, a defensive-minded head coach, at Michigan State and discussed the benefits of playing for an offensive-minded head coach such as Freeze.

"I think it's been good," Thorne said of his relationship with Freeze. "It's different having an offensive head coach and especially someone who has called plays before. I expect Coach (Freeze) to push me, and I definitely feel like that's something he's going to do."

Thorne spoke on his mindset when it comes to goals and how he goes about them.

"I would say I have goals but they are more like daily and weekly goals," Thorne said. "My goal is to win as many games as we can and expect to win every time we go out there. I believe that starts with your preparation which goes back to daily and weekly goals."

Thorne and the rest of the Auburn football team do not have much longer to wait before they get the chance to show what they can do. The Tigers open up the 2023 season against the UMass Minutemen at home inside Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 2. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. CT, and the game will be broadcast on ESPN.

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