Michigan junior quarterback Shea Patterson isn’t letting murmurs about his NFL stock distract him from competing for a national championship this season with the Wolverines, but the opportunity to play at the next level a bit earlier than expected may be too good to pass up.
Citing multiple sources, Bleacher Report NFL Draft guru Matt Miller wrote on Friday that Patterson — along with Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins — are two of several juniors expected to declare after the season in an effort to get ahead of a talent-rich quarterback class in 2020 that’ll include Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Georgia’s Jake Fromm.
Another underclassman quarterback expected to declare is Michigan’s Shea Patterson. The source explained that Patterson and Haskins both feel they can drive their stock up in this class and will benefit by not competing with the 2020 group that includes Jake Fromm and Tua Tagovailoa. Patterson, a transfer from Ole Miss, also has prized recruit Dylan McCaffrey behind him on the depth chart and looking poised to play next fall. This could, of course, change, but currently, multiple sources expect Michigan to lose Patterson.
Earlier this week, Patterson said he was tuning out NFL Draft buzz and focusing on Michigan’s final two games of the regular season, the Big Ten Championship and a likely College Football Playoff berth.
“Not at all. Obviously, you think about it, but right now I’m just focusing on this team,” Patterson said Tuesday night. “Like everybody else on this team, guys that have a chance to go out early. We’re just focusing on Indiana right now, after that we’ll focus on Ohio State. Actually, we’re focused on Wednesday’s practice. We’re worried about Indiana, but we’re also focused on tomorrow’s practice. That’s how it’s been all season, I don’t think we’re going to change that.”
Jim Harbaugh said this month he believes Patterson will shine at the next level. Patterson has thrown for 1,927 yards this season with 17 touchdowns and three interceptions, a ratio that has helped transform Michigan’s offense.
“He’s done a phenomenal job,” Harbaugh told WXYZ this week. “I doubt (we’d be 9-1) without him. He does everything well. Whatever you ask him to do, he does. Whether it’s running the ball or throwing out of the pocket. When he gets out of the pocket, he shines. When you watch him, it looks baseballish. He’s been drafted by the (Texas) Rangers as an infielder, third baseman. You see a lot of that. He doesn’t need to use his feet when he gets running (to throw). I really like watching him.”
Harbaugh harped on Patterson’s expert-level decision-making this season during Monday’s weekly presser.
“The fact that he makes really good decisions when he throw the ball, he throws really accurate balls and sees the field really well,” he said. “From the first game he played here, that was really evident with him that there’s not a lot of times where it could’ve got intercepted. He commented midseason, ‘that was the first ball I could remember that could even have a chance to be intercepted.’ The fact that he makes really good decisions and throws the ball really accurately.
“It’s a high percentage of why he has 17 touchdowns and three interceptions.”
Patterson arrived at Michigan from Ole Miss with much fanfare, but much of that hype is now confidence 10 games into his career with the fourth-ranked Wolverines. Michigan hasn’t lost since a 24-17 setback in the season opener at Notre Dame.
Patterson, a former five-star and top pro-style quarterback in the country according to the 247Sports Composite, will have a chance to strengthen his Heisman candidacy on Saturday against an Indiana pass defense that’s given up 23 touchdown passes this season, second-most in the Big Ten.