Redshirt junior quarterback Noah Kim lofted his first career touchdown pass against Akron last season.
To the outcome of the game, it was quite meaningless. Michigan State was already up 24-0 in the third quarter and was absolutely pounding Akron on the ground on the way to a 52-0 victory. But, for Kim, that moment and his four other game appearances last season could give him an edge in the ongoing starting quarterback battle.
At the same time though, he’s also trying not to relish too much in those short stints, knowing the extent to which conclusions can be drawn from his limited playing time.
“Realistically, I think it does give you a little bit more confidence just going into practices, but I try not to focus on what anybody did last year, including myself,” Kim said Tuesday. “I try not to think about what I did last year and I feel like that year is over with. It's something that I would like to carry forward into every practice and go into games with confidence level, leadership and stuff like that, but I try not to focus on that too much because there's a lot of room to grow.”
Michigan State is wrapping up its spring practices this week with the finale open to the public Saturday afternoon at Spartan Stadium. As it stands right now, Kim is one-third of the competition for Michigan State’s starting quarterback job, joined by the two-year incumbent Payton Thorne and redshirt freshman Katin Houser. Given Head Coach Mel Tucker’s accustomed philosophies on depth charts as he heads into his fourth season in East Lansing, it’s quite likely that a starter isn’t named until MSU meets Central Michigan in the season-opener – just like what happened in 2021.
“Until that first game, it's on,” Kim said. “It's a competition. You gotta attack every day like it's the same.”
Kim has been an understudy in the quarterback room in his three seasons with the Spartans, but believes his improvement makes him qualified for the job. He redshirted in 2020 and did not see any game action in 2021 as Thorne ascended and Anthony Russo backed him up. But Thorne took a step back last fall, putting his starting job in peril one year after he broke Michigan State’s single-season passing touchdown record and was viewed by some as a potential NFL prospect.
Kim, meanwhile, played in four games last season, three in late-game relief for Thorne and another single snap he played versus Western Michigan when Thorne briefly left because of an injury. He threw a touchdown in all three of his relief appearances, while completing 14-of-19 passes for 174 yards.
“In a business like this, just in college football in general, I feel like you kind of have to, even if you don't have the reps, you gotta act like you have the reps and a lot of coaches want to see that from a quarterback in a competition,” Kim said. “You have to act like you've been there even if you haven't.”
Senior Montorie Foster Jr. is one wide receiver in particular who Kim has demonstrated a chemistry with both in the past and during the spring. Four of Foster’s five receptions in 2022 came from the arm of Kim – including a 25-yard touchdown against Ohio State. Plus, Kim was videotaped throwing a touchdown pass to Foster during MSU’s closed scrimmage last weekend.
It may even help that Kim and Foster live next to each other and have had classes together, he said.
“Throwing to him is great and I know he'll go get the ball when it's up in the air,” Kim said.
Kim’s arm strength is one of his more dazzling physical attributes, which will be on display at Saturday’s open practice. The Virginia native was a three-star recruit out of Westfield High School, where he was a three-year starter and threw for 6,756 passing yards, 87 passing touchdowns and 23 rushing touchdowns.
While he said he’s made strides in his physique and minor details in order to slow down the game, Kim also said he’s more focused on himself, rather than paying attention to how well Thorne and Houser have been doing.
“We all get along,” Kim said of the quarterback room. “We have a great room. It's a very competitive room, but at the same time, we understand that off the field there's no point in being a cancer in the locker room or anything like that.”