ATLANTA — It was big news for Michigan football, when on Saturday, junior quarterback Shea Patterson announced he would be returning to Ann Arbor for his final year of eligibility.
And it has his head coach fired up.
When Patterson transferred from Ole Miss to Michigan, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that he was a one-and-done, that he would come in for one year before heading off early to the NFL. He was on Heisman Trophy watch lists and in the early rounds of NFL mock drafts. But while Patterson played a solid season and was one of the top 25 quarterbacks in the country across several metrics, his stat lines weren’t congruent with a first round pick, as Michigan didn’t rely heavily on his services. Though, when the Wolverines did, Patterson was spectacular, passing for 65% on the season with 20 touchdowns to just 5 interceptions.
On Monday, just days after Patterson’s announcement, Jim Harbaugh shared why he’s excited about his quarterback’s return. Ultimately, it puts his mind on just how good his team could be offensively next year.
“It’s a big lift,” Harbaugh said. “I’m excited about it. Start making you think – we have a lot of really good players coming back next year. A lot of good people. A lot of good players, coaches that will be returning next year.
“That thought’s in your mind, too. You want to win this game for this team, for this season. And knowing it will change, some players on the team won’t be back next year. But a lot of them will. A lot of good ones. Also want to keep that building – start building momentum for next year at the same time. Able to do both at the same time.”
As far as Patterson’s personal growth over the past of the last year, it took a minute for Harbaugh to think about where he saw the most change.
While he couldn’t pinpoint — on the spot — one area in which he felt that Patterson most improved, he did share what he’s been able to do since arriving in Ann Arbor a year ago.
“He’s been just great at getting better at everything,” Harbaugh said. “He’s an ascending player. Everything you ask him to do, he’s got the athletic ability to go out and do it. Really serious about being good. He’s so focused in practice. He’s the type of player you can give a coaching point to and he gets it. Practices and improves on it.”
If anything, Patterson will have a push to be great next season, and that’s not just from his internal drive or his coaches getting after him.
It’s from the competition in his own quarterbacks room.
Redshirt freshman Dylan McCaffrey has been a fan favorite since taking the field in the second half against Notre Dame, but he broke his collarbone in Michigan’s Week 10 game against Penn State.
Nearly two months down the road now, and Harbaugh confirmed that McCaffrey is starting to get involved with the team physically, once again.
“He’s starting to do some things, yeah,” Harbaugh said. “It’s been about seven weeks now. Healing and he can throw a ball now and is starting to do some things in our practices as well.”