Michigan State has a LOT of questions fans are seeking answers to in the first game of the 2023 Football Season. At the top of almost everyone’s list is, “who will start at QB for this year’s squad?”
Despite coach Mel Tucker remaining largely silent on the subject it seems clear that the open competition for QB has narrowed to two options: Noah Kim and Katin Houser.
Before we get to your votes, let’s review the full position set for this year’s Spartan squad. But first, the obligatory mention of departed Payton Thorne.
(At some point I can stop writing this right?)
Payton Thorne - Not on the roster (Playing somewhere down south in that other football conference)
The 2023 QB position was announced as an open competition going into Spring ball. The working theory was that two year starter Payton Thorne had struggled enough in 2022 to justify opening the competition up to highly touted Redshirt Freshman Katin Houser. To fans of Houser this was a sign that he was the anointed future of the team. To fans (there were still some of those) of Thorne this seemed like a slap in the face. Fuerther, it seemed there was growing evidence that Thorne played essentially the entire 2022 season with a largely undisclosed injury (or injuries) an approach by Coach Tucker I’ve argued hurts the Spartans.
Regardless of your views on it, the competition ended in two stunning developments:
1- Payton Thorne departed town abruptly after the end of Spring Ball
2- Noah Kim, at one point heralded as the “forgotten man” in the competition, emerged as a serious contender to replace Thorne (Cue outrage from the Katin Houser is “him” contingent on Twitter - er, I mean X)
So now here we are, waiting on the first game to tell us who will actually start for Michigan State this year.
The options actually on the roster are (listed in Alphabetical order by last name):
Katin Hauser, Redshirt Freshman
Houser has a vocal support group on X (the platform formerly known as Twitter). The aggressive drum beat for Houser to get the starting nod during 2023 Spring practices could not have helped Payton Thorne’s confidence in being named - and remaining - the starter in 2023. Beyond that, not much is really KNOWN about Houser.
He has a strong arm. Reports out of practice claim he is the “gunslinger” of the QB room, willing to take chances and push the ball. That can be a recipe for a great young QB finding his way in the league, or it can be someone that becomes turnover prone. We will not know until live game action.
Houser’s pedigree as a highly ranked recruit and flashes on some social media videos definitely have people excited. He is physically bigger than Noah Kim (see Kim’s section below) and technically has an extra year of eligibility. Further, he is a true Mel Tucker recruit, which could mean the current coaching staff is more interested in letting “their guys” take the lead.
Noah Kim, Redshirt Junior
Kim was essentially the forgotten man in many Spartan fans’ minds coming into 2023. Despite being with the program for four years - and having three full years of eligibility left thanks to the Covid year - Kim was regarded as more of a journeyman backup then a real contender for the starting position in most people’s minds. That changed with some glimpses in Spring practice of a more polished and posed player than people realized. The departure of Thorne really brought Kim back to the forefront as he is effectively the veteran option for the team despite limited in-game action over his four years with the team.
Kim has been touted as the calmer, more in control option compared to Hauser in practice. Obviously, no one has really seen that in a game yet. A central concern for Kim being the starter - and lasting the season - is his size. Listed at 6 foot 2 inches and only 185 pounds, Kim would have been the lightest starting QB in the Big Ten last year. Conference play will be a grind, and slighter framed QBs are seen as more injury prone. Coming off a 2022 where the physically larger Thorne had his season effectively derailed due to a hit in the Western Michigan game, Kim’s physical build makes many nervous about a season with him as the primary option at QB.
All of that concern is balanced (at least a bit) as Kim has given some in-game flashes including a memorable 25-yard touchdown pass to Montorie Foster Jr. against Ohio State last year.
Sam Leavitt, Freshman
The four star recruit is a long shot to contribute meaningfully this year. The number one overall player out of Oregon was a big recruiting victory for the coaching staff, but most QBs take a redshirt year, and it looks like Leavitt may follow that route. Unless there is a serious injury to Hauser and Kim, it is most likely that Leavitt sees little to no action this year to preserve that redshirt season (though he can play in up to 4 games to maintain it, so some time against CMU or a later opponent is possible to get him some seasoning at the college level).
Andrew Schorfhaar, Redshirt Junior
Schorfhaar is a fourth year player who has not contributed on the field. Despite being named a finalist for the Lansing State Journal’s offensive player of the year coming out of High School, Schorfhaar’s most notable contributions at Michigan State has been in the classroom, being named All Big Ten Academic for two years in a row. Due to Covid, Schorfhaar still technically has three years of eligibility left (like Noah Kim), but the likelihood of his contributing meaningfully on the field during games remains low.
Who takes the first snap at Central Michigan tonight will be significant but not the end of the story. While I expect Noah Kim will open the game for the offense, I expect Kim and Houser will largely split time against CMU, and even into the Richmond game in week two. A true “starter” may not be clear until the Washington game in week three. If the season goes off the rails (not something I want, but a possibility on a team with so many open questions), Houser could be the starter by mid season with an eye to the future that could include Leavitt seeing some late season reps that avoid burning his red shirt year.
What do you think about the Spartan QB position at Central Michigan?
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Who will be the start QB at Central Michigan?
This poll is closed
Kim and Houser will split time
I have no idea and this makes me nervous