Over the past 2 weeks, we have been bringing you an inside look at the possibility that Michigan could be the transfer destination for the #1 QB recruit in America from 2016, Shea Patterson. Patterson started 3 games as a true freshman for Ole Miss in 2016, and was leading the SEC in passing after 6 games and on pace for nearly 4,500 yards and 30 TD when he suffered a season ending knee injury vs. LSU in late October to end his sophomore campaign.
As news broke of Ole Miss receiving serious sanctions from the NCAA this week, Patterson was also granted permission from Ole Miss to transfer to the school of his choice. As Michigan began to be rumored as the preferred destination for Patterson over the weekend, Jim Harbaugh wasted no time in expressing his interest in the Rebels QB, who many have compared to a carbon copy of Heisman front-runner Baker Mayfield.
As it began to break that Harbaugh flew to Oxford, MS today (home of Ole Miss) to meet with Patterson, a situation has begun to develop that could change the future of Michigan football, the Big Ten, and the entire landscape of college football. We detail what is looking a near-lock to happen below: a set of players transferring to Michigan that would potentially make the Wolverines the most talented team in the country next season.
Harbaugh traveled to Mississippi today to meet with sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson (2016 recruit), redshirt sophomore wide receiver Van Jefferson (2015) and sophomore safety Deontay Anderson (2016). Those players expressed interest in Michigan as a transfer destination in the past couple days, and locked in a visit to see Michigan this coming weekend. In an effort to make the weekend a likely time to commit to play at Michigan next year, Harbaugh made the decision to travel south to meet the players face to face and gain an understanding of their intentions and the likelihood of the 3 talents coming to play for Michigan,
Another player Michigan also inquired about was OT Greg Little, a 5-star recruit in the 2016 class, 2016 1st team freshman All-American, and All-SEC lineman in 2017. Upon arriving in Oxford, Harbaugh quickly found out that Patterson had been doing some heavy recruiting of his own, and had potentially convinced 3 other players (7 total) to join him in Ann Arbor in January.
In addition to Patterson, Jefferson, Anderson, and Little, LB Breon Dixon (4-star recruit in 2017), OT Bryce Mathews (2016 4-star), and TE Jacob Mathis have expressed serious interest to Michigan that if there is scholarship room on the Michigan roster in 2018, they would very likely join Patterson in Ann Arbor as Wolverines.
We've been told from sources inside the Michigan football program that the possibility of the 6 of the 7 players coming to Michigan have become very likely. The wildcard is Little, potentially the best player of the group, who is also strongly considering Oklahoma as his transfer destination.
Should Michigan land these 7 players, one college football source we spoke to said frankly "this would be the biggest influx of experienced talent into a college football program in history. With that defense, Michigan would be a sure-fire top 5 team and Big Ten favorite next season".
Are these players eligible?
The one question on the minds of all fans who know the NCAA's transfer rules, is "How would they make Michigan better in 2018, they have to sit out a year, right?".
Well, the answer in most cases is that these players would not be able to play for Michigan next season. But, with Ole Miss getting slammed with sanctions and losing their coach, we've been told from sources that Michigan's coaches, the Ole Miss players, and Ole Miss boosters all have been led to believe that the 7 players will be granted a waiver by the NCAA to transfer without sitting out due to "special circumstances" related to the situation at their school and the NCAA believing that the players could band together to file a lawsuit to gain eligibility through the court system, a case that many experts believe they would likely win.
What should Michigan fans expect from these players in 2018 if they are eligible?
From the conversations we've had, plus our own knowledge of Michigan football, it appears likely that Michigan could be adding an astounding 6 starters to the 2018 lineup.
- Patterson is certainly the favorite to be the QB at Michigan, and would instantly be seen as a Heisman candidate.
- Little and Mathews would become instant starters on the struggling Michigan OL.
- Dixon would be the front-runner to start at LB alongside Devin Bush and Khaleke Hudson
- Anderson could possibly beat out Michigan starting safety Tyree Kinnel.
- Jefferson had 91 receptions, 99 yards, and 4 TD in his first 2 seasons, considerably better stats than any Michigan WR expected to play significant minutes in 2018.
- Mathis - the 6'5 freshman TE, would likely be 3rd or 4th on Michigan depth chart.
For MORE on this story, and the latest developments as they happen, please click the following link to subscribe to the Michigan Football Report podcast - available only for iPhone. Michigan Football Report podcast with James Yoder.