ANN ARBOR — All eyes are on the Michigan quarterbacks.
Or, more specifically, one Michigan quarterback, Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson. A decision on the Toledo native’s waiver request hasn’t been made, but that’s done nothing to stop his participation in spring practice.
“He’s a playmaker,” quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton said. “Everybody gets excited when he’s out there. And if he makes a special play, you can feel the energy throughout our team. You can just feel it, the positive energy.”
Hamilton’s comments echo Jim Harbaugh’s statement from two weeks ago when the Michigan coach said, “Shea is practicing, and he’s practicing very well. He’s going about his business and taking care of it nicely.”
As speculation swirls and new reports emerge daily, Patterson has remained fully engaged in Michigan’s path toward the future. All four quarterbacks — Patterson, Brandon Peters, Dylan McCaffrey, and Joe Milton — are splitting reps evenly, and Patterson has been immersed in the playbook since he arrived in December, studying the language and poring over plays.
A ruling regarding his appeal for immediate eligibility is expected any day. The spring has allowed Patterson to get up to speed in Michigan’s offense and have an understanding of the system, so if he is eligible, a learning curve will not be part of the equation.
Michigan’s offensive philosophies will not change because of who’s behind center, according to Hamilton. The Wolverines will, however, make minor adjustments and tweaks tailored to a quarterback’s strengths.
A hierarchy at the position does not exist. Hamilton was asked when he’d like to see one of them break away from the pack and responded, “Yesterday.” He broadened his answer by explaining that it’d be ideal if someone could be identified as the starter, adding that coaches have not discussed if anyone will be given that title prior to fall camp.
“You’ve got to stabilize that position first,” Hamilton said.
Peters started four games last season, completing 52.8 percent of his passes for 672 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions. The Wolverines were 2-2 in his four starts, and he had a listless performance in the Outback Bowl when he knew competition at the position was rising.
But no one on the roster is more familiar with the offense, and Peters is the only quarterback who’s completed a pass in a Michigan uniform.
"[He’s] just taking command of the huddle and making quicker, faster decisions,” Hamilton said. “That’s all the result of having played and getting a true sense of how bad the defensive players and their intentions are with regard to hitting the quarterback.”
Hamilton also had high marks for McCaffrey, who redshirted last season, and Milton, an early enrollee. McCaffrey earned praise from the coaching staff last fall when he was leading the scout team. He was named the scout team player of the week for the Cincinnati game and received scout team player of the year honors at the team banquet.
“Dylan is an underrated athlete,” Hamilton said. “Dylan is a guy that can make all the throws and make plays with his legs.”
Michigan has a final practice in Ann Arbor before departing Thursday for Paris, where team members will experience a week of culture and education. For the players, it’s all vacation. The coaches don’t have that same luxury.
Sure, the days will be spent enjoying the sights and culinary delights. But the eight-hour flight to and from France and the evenings will include an abundance of film watching.
“Right now, we don’t have a guy,” Hamilton said, referring to the quarterback position. “So it’s important that they all get equal reps and continue to grow and give us a chance to evaluate their progress.”
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