The wait is over — and it’s just the news Michigan has been waiting for.
Quarterback Shea Patterson will be eligible to suit up right away, providing a sizeable boost to the Wolverines’ quarterback depth chart. He will have two more years of eligibility, after spending two seasons at Ole Miss.
The NCAA granted the redshirt sophomore immediate eligibility after reviewing his waiver, which detailed misguidance from the previous Rebels staff about impending NCAA sanctions during Patterson’s recruitment. In December 2017, Ole Miss was hit with a host of restrictions, including a two-year bowl ban. In that 18-page decision, the NCAA wrote, “Ole Miss lacked institutional control and fostered an unconstrained culture of booster involvement in football recruiting.”
Patterson announced in December he would transfer from Ole Miss to Michigan, with the question of his eligibility still in the air.
He and his lawyer appealed to waive the normally-mandated redshirt season for a transfer, on the grounds that he was misled by the Ole Miss coaching staff — a claim the Rebels initially objected to. The Wolverines announced Friday afternoon the two schools worked together in the “last several days” to put forth a joint waiver for Patterson’s eligibility. As a result, Michigan withdrew its previous waiver and submitted the new one.
Friday, the NCAA approved that waiver, granting Patterson the immediate eligibility he — and the Wolverines — coveted.
“That new application was submitted this week by the University of Michigan and supported by both schools,” the statement reads. “The University of Michigan has withdrawn its previous waiver application and all associated materials in favor of this new, cooperative approach based on facts which all parties agree to.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.”
Patterson’s abilities, and his wealth of accolades, have been well documented. He brings a five-star pedigree — and a year of SEC experience — to the Wolverines’ quarterback room. In seven games as the starter last season, Patterson completed over 63 percent of his passes, throwing for 2,259 yards and 19 touchdowns. All three of Michigan’s starting quarterbacks combined for just 2,226 yards and nine touchdowns in 13 games last season.
“Everybody gets excited when he’s out there,” assistant coach Pep Hamilton told reporters last week. “If he makes a special play you can feel the energy throughout our team, you can just feel it… and he is a playmaker.”
Patterson will walk in the favorite to start September 1 at Notre Dame, though it’s too soon to annoint him just yet.
Hamilton went on to say all four quarterbacks — Patterson, redshirt sophomore Brandon Peters, redshirt freshman Dylan McCaffery and freshman Joe Milton — were splitting reps evenly, both in terms of sheer numbers and with the first team.
When asked when he’d like a frontrunner to emerge, Hamilton promply replied, “Yesterday.”
All of that is to say, Patterson won’t merely waltz to the top of the depth chart. He will have to beat out Peters and McCaffery, fairly and squarely.
Peters, to his credit, has a year of experience in the system — one that produced freshman-esque ups and downs a season ago. His six starts showed signs of a potential long-term starter at times, and causes for concerns at others. And McCaffery has done nothing but impress since he stepped foot on campus, claiming the offensive scout team player of the year in his redshirt season a year ago.
But these are good problems to have. Patterson’s presence alone provides a significant boon to a position group that has experienced its fair share of inconsistency over recent years.
Either way, in 127 days Michigan will walk out on the field at Notre Dame stadium to take on the Fighting Irish. And the Shea Patterson era will begin.
“There are a lot of people who worked really hard to help make this transfer process a success. I want to thank Coach Harbaugh, the University of Michigan and the NCAA for allowing me to continue my education and football career at one of the best universities in the country,” Patterson wrote in a statement Friday afternoon. “A special thanks to Michigan’s Compliance Staff and to (Patterson’s lawyer) Tom Mars for his personal guidance for me and my family during this time. With this decision behind us, my family and I are fully focused on the upcoming season. My teammates and I are always committed to competing at the highest level and winning championships. Go Blue!”