Former Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson is likely to be Michigan’s starting quarterback in 2018.
After multiple reports emerged Thursday, Michigan confirmed Friday that the Ole Miss transfer will be immediately eligible to compete for the Wolverines. Patterson had transferred from Ole Miss following NCAA sanctions — including a bowl ban — against the school.
Patterson said he wanted to transfer from Ole Miss after he claimed ex-Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze had misled him about the severity of the NCAA penalties that were going to be imposed on Ole Miss. Freeze resigned before the 2017 season, a season where Ole Miss served a self-imposed bowl ban.
At first, Ole Miss reportedly objected to Patterson’s assessment of the circumstances surrounding his transfer. However, Michigan said in its press release Friday that it worked with Ole Miss and the NCAA to help Patterson become eligible, rather than taking a redshirt year like a normal transfer.
The change in course followed a recent amendment (presumably No. 5 here) on transfer waiver guidelines that approved by the NCAA Division I Council.
“Following notification of this change, the University of Mississippi promptly reached out to the University of Michigan to discuss how these new standards could impact the University of Mississippi’s support of a transfer student-athlete’s desire to compete immediately at the University of Michigan. The University of Mississippi and the University of Michigan have worked together over the last several days in conjunction with the NCAA national office staff, and with a focus on the best interest of the student-athlete, to put forward a new waiver application.
“That new application was submitted this week by the University of Michigan and supported by both schools. The University of Michigan has withdrawn its previous waiver application and all associated materials in favor of this new, cooperative approach based on facts which all parties agree to. The waiver has now been approved by the NCAA and thus football student-athlete Shea Patterson will be eligible to compete in the 2018-19 academic year.
“Both schools are ready to move forward and appreciate the assistance of the NCAA staff in bringing this matter to a resolution. While the process has been complex at times, the solution was simple — two flagship universities and the NCAA staff working together with a focus on student-athlete well-being.”
Attorney Tom Mars, who represented Patterson in his request to transfer and has represented Houston Nutt in his suit against the school, said the decision to make Patterson eligible could not have come without Ole Miss’ cooperation.
“The solution the NCAA came up with in this case wouldn’t have been possible without Ole Miss’s support,” Mars said in his statement. “I know [athletic director] Ross Bjork answers to a number of constituent groups, and I hope they see this outcome as a “win” not just for Michigan and Shea – but for Ole Miss as well. That’s the way I see it.
Here’s what you need to know about Patterson’s transfer.
• He immediately becomes the frontrunner to be the Wolverines’ starter. The Wolverines’ top two quarterbacks to open the 2017 season were Wilton Speight and John O’Korn. Speight transferred to UCLA as a graduate transfer and O’Korn graduated.
• Patterson’s primary competition is Brandon Peters and Dylan McCaffrey. Peters threw 108 passes in 2017 and started against Wisconsin before he suffered a concussion. McCaffrey, the son of former NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey and the brother of Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey, was a freshman in 2017.
• Patterson was a five-star recruit and the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback in the class of 2016 according to Rivals. He was set to redshirt in 2016 but started at the end of the season after Chad Kelly suffered a knee injury. He opened the 2017 season as the team’s undisputed starter but suffered a season-ending knee injury in October.
• Ole Miss filed an objection to Patterson’s claims that he was misled by Freeze. Patterson is one of many Ole Miss players who had asked for immediate eligibility at their new schools because of the NCAA sanctions. That objection has obviously been denied. Transfers typically have to sit out a season and Patterson wouldn’t have been able to play until 2019 without a waiver.
• Patterson becomes the best Michigan quarterback in Jim Harbaugh’s tenure. Will he be able to lead the Wolverines out of the land of 8-5? After going 10-3 in each of Harbaugh’s first two seasons with the school, Michigan dropped two more games in 2017. Poor quarterback play was a big part of that record.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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