Have Michigan football questions? We’ve got answers. Join us every Thursday for the Land of 10 Michigan mailbag to talk all things Wolverines. This week, we discuss the possibility of Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson transferring to Michigan, the Wolverines’ potential NFL draft picks in the spring and if Tarik Black will be available for the Outback Bowl.
Do you think Michigan’s quarterback situation is the main reason for the program’s losses this year? — Quinton Levester Samuels, via Facebook
The quarterback position wasn’t as much of a trouble spot as the offensive line was — those two entities go hand-in-hand. In order for the quarterback to be successful, the offensive line has to do its job. And for more than the first half of Michigan’s season, the offensive line wasn’t doing its job, no matter how many changes were made. The offensive line made progress in a three-week stretch that included wins against Rutgers, Minnesota and Maryland, but Wisconsin was a rude awakening for the unit.
The quarterbacks, meanwhile, didn’t have enough experience to make game-changing plays, or to be playmakers. Wilton Speight ran the offense, but not fluidly. John O’Korn managed a game, but aside from his 270-yard game in September at Purdue in relief of an injured Speight, he never regained that dynamic touch in the remainder of games he played in.
Brandon Peters showed he was capable of running the offense and being a solid decision maker, but again, there wasn’t anything overwhelming about him. He ran the offense. He was smart when he made decisions. He accounted for longer plays that O’Korn and Speight.
Two quarterbacks sustained major injuries. One essentially broke his back for this program (Speight), and the other began to show his strengths before he was sidelined by a concussion (Peters) — and the severity of that concussion still isn’t known.
With the addition of Shea Patterson — whose eligibility hinges upon NCAA clearance — Michigan needs to make the improvement those two areas of its offense a priority.
If the NCAA blocks Shea Patterson’s transfer and he’s here for two years, will Michigan lose Brandon Peters and Dylan McCaffrey? — Jimmy Bailey, via Facebook
So what does this mean for Dylan I want him to be starting qb?
— Toddelle Darby (@ToddelleD) December 11, 2017
Patterson will pursue a waiver that allows him to immediately play in 2018 — undergraduate transfers are required to sit out a year unless the NCAA rules otherwise, and the NCAA approves or denies those on a case-by-case basis.
Peters has three years of eligibility remaining, and McCaffrey has four. Right now, I don’t see Peters and McCaffrey transferring, especially with Michigan’s emphasis on long-term development. Peters’ father told the Detroit News earlier this week that he doesn’t anticipate his son leaving the program because a new quarterback is coming in, and neither Joe Milton nor Kevin Doyle (both incoming 2018 freshmen) have publicly reneged on their verbal commitments.
If Patterson can come in and play right away as a junior, he puts himself in position to raise his draft stock. He is projected as a first-round pick in 2019. Patterson could be here for as little as a year. With Peters, McCaffrey, Milton and Doyle behind him, put more long-term stock in those players.
How will Jim Harbaugh continue to recruit kids out of high school? — Eric Slavinsky, via Facebook
Jim Harbaugh will continue to recruit. High school is the primary mining ground, but experienced quarterbacks are rare. Michigan had to make a play for Shea Patterson, and vice versa.
Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football programs. How else are programs personalized, and how else would Harbaugh personalize his football program? By bringing in recruits whom he can mold in his own vision.
On that note, recruiting hasn’t slowed down. Michigan’s coaches have been traveling to see 2018 commits. 247Sports ranks Michigan’s 2018 recruiting class 12th in the nation and third in the Big Ten.
247Sports ranks Michigan’s four-player 2019 class first in the Big Ten and seventh in the nation.
Of the seven Ole Miss players said to be interested in transferring, who would be the most coveted behind Patterson? — Ryan Peeling, via Facebook
We don’t know exactly who the prospective transfers are, outside of Patterson, safety Deontay Anderson and wide receiver Van Jefferson. We can rule out Anderson, who announced Wednesday that he has reopened his recruitment.
Jefferson would be the best fit. He brings immediate experience to a position that’s sorely in need of it — Michigan’s wide receivers simply didn’t produce. Only one receiver had more than 300 yards (Grant Perry, who had 307 on 25 catches) and much of the production came from the tight ends.
Jefferson is a former SEC All-Freshman selection who caught 42 passes for 456 yards and a touchdown as a redshirt sophomore and as Ole Miss’ No. 2 receiver.
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