The junior quarterback, who started the Spartans’ first six games this season, confirmed to the Free Press he told his teammates Friday afternoon he plans to enter the NCAA transfer portal.
His name officially appeared in the portal shortly after his confirmation. Lombardi is the fourth MSU player to enter the portal Friday and the ninth to do so since coach Mel Tucker took over Feb. 12.
Lombardi leaves after starting nine games in his four seasons, including three in 2018. He threw for 1,901 yards with 11 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 22 career appearances at MSU. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound native of Clive, Iowa, completed 84 of 157 passes for 1,090 yards with eight touchdowns and nine interceptions this season, adding 39 rushing yards on 32 carries.
This season, his first as the full-time starter, was up and down. He threw for 319 yards in the opening-game loss to Rutgers with three touchdowns and two interceptions. He then orchestrated a 27-24 win at Michigan, passing for 323 yards with three TDs and no picks.
His progress unraveled starting the next week at Iowa, when Lombardi threw three interceptions and passed for 227 yards in a 49-7 blowout loss. He got pulled in the second quarter against Indiana after two more interceptions. Redshirt freshman Payton Thorne replaced him.
But Lombardi started again the following week and led the Spartans to a 29-20 upset win over eventual Big Ten West champion Northwestern. He went 11 of 27 for 167 yards but threw two touchdowns and ran for a career-high 65 yards in the victory.
But against Ohio State the following week, Lombardi failed to generate any traction with the offense for the third time in four games, going 5 of 11 for 33 yards with a tipped interception for a TD in his own end zone. Six drives of his seven drives went three plays and one went four, with none reaching midfield. He was sacked late in the second quarter, his head slamming off the turf, and he did not return. He was not in uniform against Penn State in Saturday’s finale.
As a redshirt freshman in his first start against Purdue, Lombardi threw for 318 yards to set the program freshman passing record. Thorne surpassed that with 325 yards in a 39-24 loss at Penn State, his first career start.
Thorne finished the season 48 of 85 for three touchdowns and three interceptions in four appearances. He ran for 47 yards on 25 carries and one of MSU’s two rushing TDs this season. Tucker brought in Temple grad transfer Anthony Russo on Wednesday and added three-star Texas prep prospect Hamp Fay on signing day. Fay is expected to enroll in January. The Spartans also have sophomore Theo Day and redshirt freshman Noah Kim as scholarship QB options on the roster.