Michigan football: What Shea Patterson needs to do to become starting quarterback

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Shea Patterson is the most prominent name in the quarterbacks competition at Michigan this spring.

The Wolverines open practices on Friday, and the spotlight is on the quarterbacks, particularly Patterson’s transfer from Mississippi for the spring semester. Patterson’s arrival, combined with the departure of Wilton Speight and the graduation of John O’Korn, brings heightened excitement to the competition.

Patterson joins Brandon Peters, Dylan McCaffrey and Joe Milton in Michigan’s stable of quarterbacks, and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh anticipates a competition for the starting job. Michigan’s coaching staff may not decide on its starter during spring practices, but the next few weeks will give some definition as to who could take the lead in the competition.

Here’s what Patterson needs to do to separate himself to become Michigan’s starting quarterback:

The first and most obvious step for Patterson is to get a decision on his eligibility. With four days left until spring practices open, neither Patterson nor Michigan has learned what his playing status is for the fall. NCAA rules require a waiver for an undergraduate transfer to immediately play following a transfer.

Once Michigan and Patterson learn of his status for 2018, that will determine Patterson’s involvement in the competition.

But many already have bestowed the starting job on Patterson, a quarterback with a knack for both improvising and making good decisions. The job isn’t officially his, and Patterson must play like he needs to earn this job. But Patterson has been in this position before. He played for two seasons at Mississippi (3,139 yards, 23 touchdowns in 10 games), and he will prepare with the mentality that he will win the starting job.

“He’s a playmaker,” Michigan passing game coordinator Pep Hamilton told The Michigan Insider last week. “Simply put. When a play breaks down, that’s when he’s at his best. That’s not something that you can coach.

“What he’s shown is that he’s a playmaker. He’s a guy when he was in high school and at Ole Miss, he found a way to make plays that not everyone can make.”

This is also a great opportunity for Patterson to learn. Patterson worked in the spread at Ole Miss. At Michigan, he will have to work behind center, read defenses on his own and make quick decisions.

He will learn from his competition in Peters, McCaffrey and Milton. He’ll learn how to work with an offensive line that’s trying to find its identity. He’ll learn from NFL coaching products Harbaugh and Hamilton on what it will take for him to be successful as Michigan’s starter and as an NFL prospect.

The pressure is immense on Patterson, but it’s external pressure. Patterson is a competitor and will handle it with ease. Patterson is in an optimal situation to further himself and the Wolverines.

And, Harbaugh added last week of Patterson, “he’s chomping at the bit to be the starter.”

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