The Wolverine

June July 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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JUNE/JULY 2018 THE WOLVERINE 23 proach this spring, regarding the po- sition, while recognizing Patterson's strengths. "He's got a lot of special qualities," Harbaugh said. "I mean, he is really talented when it comes to throwing the ball. He's really good and elu- sive and has a really good feel for the game. He's a quick-minded guy. All positive." Nowhere in any of that exists an overly bold prediction, or a guaran- tee of a starting spot. Patterson him- self remained very collected when speaking to the media about his situ- ation while in France on Michigan's overseas trip. He did grow emotional at one point, talking about a successful completion of the process to become eligible for this fall. "It was the morning that we left Ann Arbor to come to Paris," Pat- terson recalled. "I was waking up, cleaning out my dorm room. The compliance office called me over. I was sitting in the room with [Michi- gan director of player personnel] Sean Magee, [attorney] Tom Mars on the phone and my dad. "They were breaking down the news. It was such a relief. It was fi- nally going to be over." Patterson paused a bit, clearly moved. He stressed that despite his obvious emotional investment in get- ting cleared to play this fall, he man- aged to focus on all he needed to accomplish this spring via practice. "I think I did a good job of not at- taching all that to the situation," he said. "Regardless of whether I was going to play or not, I was going to give it 100 percent every single day, and control what I could control. "I think I did a good job with that." Teammates and other observers thought the same. Junior defensive end Rashan Gary indicated Michi- gan's offense changes when Patter- son is behind center, because of his mobility. Others pointed out Patterson's savvy in checking down quickly to other options versus the blitz, and his accuracy in connecting on back- shoulder throws, etc. Meanwhile, the junior quarterback himself couldn't stress enough how Gary and the de- fense challenged him. "The best thing was, I was going against a tremendous defense," Pat- terson assured. "Those guys on de- fense are ridiculous. Iron sharpens iron, so we were getting each other better every day. "From a player aspect of it, I defi- nitely got a lot better this spring." Meanwhile, he likes what he sees in terms of the skill-position play- ers around him. Sophomore wide- outs such as Tarik Black, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Nico Collins got thrown into the fray as true freshmen a year ago, and learned the hard way. They're well advanced from their starting point, not only in terms of experience and game situations, but also in strength and conditioning. Patterson also sees a very strong emerging collection of tight ends and some veteran running backs. "It's an amazing group overall," he said. "We've got great wide receivers and tight ends — [redshirt junior] Zach Gentry, [junior] Sean McKeon and [junior Nick] Eubanks, coming back from the injury. "You've got Donovan Peoples- Jones, so many guys … I've got a great group of running backs, too. We definitely have a great overall group of playmakers." Patterson becomes Harbaugh's third transfer quarterback in little more than three years at the helm. John O'Korn arrived from Houston and stepped in to play extensively last year. Jake Rudock came in from Iowa during Harbaugh's first season and helped the Wolverines win 10 games. Rudock had only the summer and fall camp to acquaint himself with new teammates and learn Michigan's system. Patterson participated in winter conditioning and spring ball, but cautions he's got more to learn before fall rolls around. "It's an NFL system," Patterson said. "It's going to take a little more than 15 practices to get fully comfort- able. I think I'm where I want to be, and I'll be ready to go." Working with quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton has changed his game in a relatively short time as well, Pat- terson noted. "It's been awesome," he said. "Pep's definitely a players' coach, and he's gotten me a lot better over the last couple of months. I've learned more from him than I have in a while. "As far as being a better quarter- back, he's been a great role model to me in getting me acclimated to the offense." Patterson has been dreaming about running out onto the Michigan Stadium surface and touching the banner in front of 112,000. But he's dreaming about more than that. He wants to win — big. "I would have stayed at Ole Miss, if it wasn't for the situation we were in," he shared. "I can live with throw- ing an interception in the national championship game … if we were to get there. "But I don't know if I could live with not getting the chance to com- pete for one." ❏ Head coach Jim Harbaugh on Patterson "He's got a lot of special qualities. I mean, he is really talented when it comes to throwing the ball. He's really good and elusive and has a really good feel for the game. He's a quick- minded guy. All positive." Patterson threw for 3,139 yards during his two seasons at Mississippi, and completed 63.8 percent of his throws with 17 touch- downs last fall. PHOTO COURTESY MISSISSIPPI

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