In his first interview since deciding to transfer to Michigan, Shea Patterson said he’s coming to Ann Arbor with a national title in his sights.
The former Ole Miss quarterback told The Blade that championships, Jim Harbaugh, and the pull of his hometown all factored into his decision to join the Wolverines.
Shea Patterson practices with local football players at the St. Francis de Sales School football field during the summer of 2016. Patterson, a Toledo native and Ole Miss quarterback at the time, announced his decision to transfer to Michigan on Monday.
“I’m really not one to jump ship on anything,” the Toledo native said. “But I’m really big on setting goals and achieving them. I did that throughout high school. One of the main goals was to win a national championship. At Ole Miss, I didn't have an opportunity to do that. Things didn't shake out the way I planned — coach [Hugh Freeze] got fired, the two-year bowl ban. I couldn’t look back on it after college and say I never got an opportunity to play for something like that.”
Patterson, who has two seasons of eligibility remaining, announced his decision to transfer to UM on Monday in a Twitter post. He visited Michigan last weekend with two Ole Miss teammates, sophomore wide receiver Van Jefferson and redshirt freshman safety Deontay Anderson. But it was all a formality for Patterson.
Stepping foot on campus, sitting down with Harbaugh, and touring facilities only reinforced his decision, giving Patterson the comfort that it was the right one.
“I had a really good feeling around the players,” Patterson said. “How professional and business-like they were in practice really attracted me. It was just awesome meeting with coach Harbaugh. I could definitely see myself playing for someone like him.”
In 10 career games over two seasons at Ole Miss, Patterson threw for 3,139 yards, 23 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. He completed 64 percent of his passes in 2017 for 2,259 yards, 17 touchdowns, and nine interceptions before tearing the PCL in his right knee during the seventh game.
Just shy of two months later, the 6-foot-2, 202-pound Patterson is already 100 percent healthy. And he believes he’ll be eligible to play in the coming season.
Transfers are usually mandated by NCAA rules to sit out one season, but Ole Miss’ sanctions, which include a two-year bowl ban, have led Patterson and others to conclude that the NCAA will grant his waiver.
“It’s in God’s hands,” said Patterson, who would compete with Brandon Peters and Dylan McCaffrey for the starting job. “From what I’m hearing, I’m pretty sure that I will win that and be able to play next year. If I don’t, I’ll work as hard as I can learning the offense and I’ll be playing the year after.”
LSU, Florida, and UCLA were the other schools Patterson considered during his brief two-week search for a second home. The NFL experience of Harbaugh, passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton, and offensive coordinator Tim Drevno appealed to Patterson.
Scouts have already pegged him as a top prospect whenever he enters the NFL draft.
“I knew if I went to Michigan, I’m going to be put in the best position to succeed, and I'll grow not only as a player, but as a person as well,” Patterson said. “They have a really, really good team coming back next year. Anyway I could help or contribute to that, I felt we’d have a really good shot at going far.”
Ever since Patterson was granted his release from Ole Miss Dec. 2, Michigan message boards and Twitter went into overdrive. It reached a crescendo when Patterson, Jefferson, and Anderson attended the UCLA basketball game Saturday. One sign in the student section referred to the triumvirate as the Ole Mich trio.
When Patterson was asked if he would be the only Ole Miss player on Michigan’s roster come week’s end, he chuckled and responded, “That’s doubtful.”
The Ole Miss media guide lists Patterson’s hometown as Shreveport, La. And prior to that, he lived in Texas. But Patterson’s roots are in the Glass City. He was born in Toledo and raised in the city until his family moved when Patterson was 11.
He still has grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends who populate Toledo and its surrounding suburbs. Growing up less than an hour from Ann Arbor, it was easy to find a favorite college football team.
“Michigan’s always been in my blood, especially growing up in Toledo,” Patterson said. “I was a huge Michigan fan. My parents were, and a lot of my relatives still are season-ticket holders. That really drew me to it.”
Prior to Saturday’s impromptu visit to Michigan Stadium, which featured Patterson throwing snowballs, his last appearance in the Big House came in 2012 when the venue hosted its first-ever night game, a dramatic last-second victory over Notre Dame.
The Wolverines open next season under the lights in Notre Dame Stadium, a game that could be Patterson’s Michigan debut.
“Man, you couldn't ask for much more,” he said. “They have two good quarterbacks I’m looking forward to competing with in the spring.”
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