Ole Miss could potentially play a role in Shea Patterson’s quest for immediate eligibility.
In December, Patterson opted to transfer to Michigan after the NCAA announced sanctions against Ole Miss. Patterson, a quarterback who signed with the Rebels as a five-star recruit, played two seasons in Oxford.
Ordinarily, a player who transfers after two years would have to sit out a year at his next stop in order to satisfy NCAA rules. But because of the circumstances surrounding the transfer of Patterson (and several other Ole Miss players), he, through Michigan’s compliance department, filed a waiver with the NCAA with the hopes of suiting up for the Wolverines in 2018.
On Wednesday, The Detroit News offered an update on that waiver. Michigan submitted it last month. Ole Miss received a copy, and offered its perspective to the NCAA:
A copy of the request was sent to Ole Miss, which has the option to respond and may support or oppose it. Ultimately, the NCAA makes the final call.
“I can confirm that Ole Miss has delivered to the NCAA and the University of Michigan its response to Michigan’s request that Shea Patterson be granted eligibility to compete during the 2018 season,” Patterson’s attorney, Thomas Mars, said in a statement Wednesday. “I’m referring all questions about Ole Miss’s response and the NCAA process going forward to Dave Ablauf at Michigan Athletics.”
Ablauf said Michigan is “aware Mississippi has filed its report to the NCAA. We won’t have any update until the NCAA makes a decision.”
A focal point for the waiver requests of Patterson and other players who transferred from Ole Miss is the supposed conduct of former Rebels head coach Hugh Freeze. CBS Sports detailed how Freeze attempted to downplay the significance of the impending NCAA sanctions against the program, which includes a two-year bowl ban (in 2017 and 2018).
“Here, you have a recruit who has lots of other options,” Mars said of Nixon. “He’s questioning, in a very intelligent way, why doesn’t the school say more, reveal more. Here’s a player who’s doing due diligence.
“Then he reaches out to Shea Patterson, who not having any reason at all to distrust [Freeze], … repeats verbatim what Hugh Freeze had told him in his office.”
While the NCAA inches closer to a decision, Patterson has been participating in spring practice at Michigan. If he becomes eligible, it would be a big deal for the Wolverines on the heels of a disappointing 8-5 season.
In just 10 starts over two seasons at Ole Miss, Patterson threw for 3,139 yards, 23 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. In seven games in 2017, he put up huge numbers — 2,259 yards and 17 touchdowns — before going down with a season-ending knee injury. Patterson was initially going to redshirt the 2016 season, but he had his redshirt removed and started the team’s final three games.
If Patterson’s waiver is denied, Michigan could turn to redshirt sophomore Brandon Peters, who started four games in 2017 with mixed results. The Wolverines also have redshirt freshman Dylan McCaffrey, the younger brother of Christian McCaffrey, and true freshman Joe Milton on scholarship at quarterback.
UM could also have one other option on the table. Wilton Speight, UM’s starter to begin the last two seasons, announced in November that he would pursue a graduate transfer. A few months later, a report emerged saying that Speight could potentially return to Michigan.
Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh confirmed the possibility on a recent episode of his podcast.
“I don’t rule it out completely,” Harbaugh said. “Wilton is going to be a graduate transfer. Wilton graduates in May, and he’s weighing some of his options.
“He’s first taking a look and seeing what else is out there, who is in need of a starting quarterback. But he hasn’t closed the door on coming back.”
If Patterson’s waiver is granted, it’s a pretty safe bet you’ll see Speight elsewhere during the 2018 season.
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