ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Maybe quarterback Shea Patterson’s swagger is just what the Michigan football team’s offense needs as it prepares for the 2018 season.
In three practices so far this spring, the Wolverines see enough out of the Ole Miss transfer that it’s already impressed them.
Several of the Wolverines praised Patterson on Tuesday for his athleticism, his mobility and his ability to work behind center, and his willingness to leave the pocket. They’ve also noticed his confidence, which is another necessity for a quarterback.
If Patterson becomes Michigan’s starting quarterback, he’ll provide a spark to an offense that sputtered at times in 2017.
Patterson is already challenging one of the nation’s top defenses in practices. That worries defensive end Rashan Gary. It also gives the coaching staff more to work with, in an offense that finished ninth in the Big Ten last season (348.9 yards per game) after finishing fourth in 2015 (395.9) and 2016 (424.9).
“I’ve got to watch how we contain him,” Gary said of Patterson. “Having him around changes the offense a little bit.”
But, Gary added, “I like him. “He’s swaggy. Swaggy.”
The Wolverines still don’t know Patterson’s playing status for the fall. Neither the NCAA nor Michigan have announced a ruling on Patterson’s eligibility waiver, which would allow him to play this fall after transferring from Ole Miss as an undergraduate. The Detroit News reported Wednesday that Ole Miss has submitted its response to the NCAA. The NCAA will decide on Patterson’s eligibility for 2018.
The 6-foot-2, 203-pound Patterson is on scholarship, and is one of four quarterbacks in line for the starting job, joining Brandon Peters, Dylan McCaffrey and Joe Milton.
Tight end Zach Gentry said he is helping Patterson make the transition to a new program and to a new school.
“I’m good friends with Shea,” Gentry said. “He’s a heck of a guy. I think a lot of the guys have gotten behind him, and helped him kind of understand what it’s like here. I think he’s done a good job of taking it in stride and going with it.”
Gentry said Patterson’s personality helps with that transition. Patterson reminds Gentry of another Michigan quarterback.
“He’s kind of like [Brandon] Peters a little bit,” Gentry said. “Maybe a little quiet. But I think he’s new here. I can talk to him. He’s opening up more and more every day.”
Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown sees another side of Patterson: the studious side.
Patterson, Brown said, has gone out of his way to meet with him and break down different coverages. At first, it surprised Brown.
“He’s got a couple rocks loose,” Brown said, with a smirk. “We’re not that sophisticated and I don’t know if we’re supposed to be!”
However, Patterson’s inquisitiveness has helped foster a working relationship between he and Brown. It’s also heightened Brown’s expectations for Patterson.
“I love Shea,” Brown said. “Shea’s an interesting guy. We’ve talked some football and I’m just really happy he’s here. He’s a tremendous young man. Great family.”
“Competition’s a beautiful thing. I expect great things from him.”