College football: Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson ready to compete for title
Relief was the best way to describe the situation.
On Thursday, just before Michigan departed on its team trip to Paris, Shea Patterson was called into Michigan's compliance office alongside director of player personnel Sean Magee.
The news was what he'd been waiting four months to hear: He was eligible to play at Michigan this season.
"It's really hard to sit here and describe what I'm feeling right now," Patterson told reporters Saturday in Paris. "It's been a long time coming and I'm just thankful it's over with. We get to move forward and just focus on playing football.
"I'm trying not to get a little emotional ... but it was such a relief."
Patterson's long journey officially came to a close Friday when Michigan and Ole Miss released a joint statement as the NCAA officially declared the former Rebel quarterback eligible for the 2018 season.
The journey was a challenging one personally for Patterson, who did his best to focus solely on football instead of worrying about whether or not he'd be able to play this year.
When he transferred to Michigan in December, the prospect of missing an entire year of football was very real. And every day since, he's been bombarded with questions daily from strangers.
"It's not 'how are you doing,' " he said. "It's 'are you going to be able to play?' "
His answer now is affirmative. Michigan will have the services of what many believe is a game-changing quarterback this fall.
Patterson threw for 2,259 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions in seven starts for Ole Miss last season. The Wolverines, as a team, completed just nine touchdown passes last season, started three different QBs and finished 8-5.
It was the lowest number of TD passes for Michigan since 1975.
"There were always moments of doubts, but I had good faith," Patterson said. "I got what I needed to get done day in and day out, on the field and in the classroom.
"It's a feeling of relief. It's been on my mind since I transferred. This was the first day I could wake up with a clear mind and not think 'what if I'm not able to play?' It changed my outlook."
Michigan started recruiting Patterson in December, shortly after ex-quarterback Wilton Speight announced he would take a graduate transfer. Before the month was over, the Wolverines received a commitment from the former five-star passer, who was rated as the nation's No. 1 quarterback in the 2016 class.
Michigan’s Marty Party has hit Paris.— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) April 27, 2018
All bets are off. pic.twitter.com/FlFkJm7keS
He was a full participant during spring football over the last two months, competing with Brandon Peters, Dylan McCaffrey and true freshman Joe Milton.
Patterson is Michigan's most accomplished passer. Though Jim Harbaugh said Saturday the competition is wide open and will be leading into fall camp.
"Very happy for Shea," Harbaugh said. "Didn't know but figured it would (work out). Figured this was the right thing. Doesn't always work out the way you think it will.
"But I thought this was the way it would turn out."
As far as football goes, Patterson says he's right where he wants to be with regard to Michigan's offensive system.
.@UMichFootball players — including Chase Winovich, Chris Evans and Shea Patterson — compete against refugees from Somalia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Bangladesh, Guinea and Chad at Paris’ INSEP facility.— Marty Smith (@MartySmithESPN) April 28, 2018
Sports unifying people. pic.twitter.com/NZg8T1HGhs
He explained how learning a pro style offense has been a different challenge than he was used to at Ole Miss. But that process is well underway.
"Every day is a work in progress. I definitely feel comfortable and have great coaches helping me," Patterson said. "But repetition, repetition, repetition. ... we got a lot of reps and I feel comfortable with it.
"I feel like being able to adapt is one of my qualities. I can get along with anybody. But the guys did a great job of taking me in and making me feel comfortable."
At Ole Miss, Patterson was facing the reality of not being able to compete for a title.
He'll have that chance now at Michigan.
"I can live with throwing an interception in the national championship game or the playoff," he said. "But I don't know if I could've lived with not even being able to get the chance to compete for one.
"And I think we've got a really good shot at doing that."
This article is written by Nick Baumgardner from Detroit Free Press and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.