MICHIGAN – Former starting quarterback Rocky Lombardi will say goodbye to East Lansing and no longer be a Michigan State Spartan.
According to Chris Solari of the Detroit Free Press, Lombardi confirmed his intention to enter the transfer portal. Apparently he informed his teammates earlier on Friday and officially appeared in the portal this evening.
Lombardi served as the Spartans’ starter for the first six games of 2020. Over that span, he threw for 1,090 yards, eight touchdowns and nine interceptions. Michigan State went 2-4.
However, first-year quarterback Payton Thorne got the start when the Spartans took on the Penn State Nittany Lions last weekend. The redshirt freshman looked impressive throughout the game and ended with 325 yards and three touchdowns through the air. The Spartans lost the game 39-24, but Thorne might’ve won the starting job for the future.
For Lombardi, that meant it was time to move on.
Lombardi played in 17 games throughout his three years at Michigan State. In nine total starts, he threw for 1,901 yards with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Although he boasted an impressive deep ball and athletic build, he never quite masted his accuracy in East Lansing. He’ll end his career with the Spartans with a completion percentage of just 47.9 percent.
The 2020 season was filled with both highs and lows, as it has been for many players and programs. After a shaky turnover-filled start against Rutgers, Lombardi bounced back with a win over Michigan. The junior quarterback threw for three scores with no interceptions in the contest.
However, he got pulled the following week in a 49-7 loss against Iowa. He then managed to score zero points against the Indiana Hoosiers in Week 4.
Finally, he got things back on track and led the Spartans to a 29-20 victory over the No. 8 Northwestern Wildcats. Ultimately, the performance wasn’t enough to keep him in the starting role after another meltdown against No. 4 Ohio State.
With Lombardi on his way out, Mel Tucker and Michigan State will welcome in two more talented quarterbacks next year. Three-star recruit Hamp Fay just signed a few days ago, while Temple grad transfer Anthony Russo also plans to arrive in East Lansing.
Michigan State looks to be on be on the way up, but there’s still a long way to go.