Coach Jim Harbaugh couldn’t pass up a chance to deliver a coy response when asked about the quarterback situation at Michigan.
Going by numbers alone, there may not be much of a contest. Mississippi transfer Shea Patterson could be the new starter behind center this season.
Out of the SEC and into the Big House — the pressure won’t let up.
Patterson could be the most pivotal transfer in FBS this season. Michigan is coming off an 8-5 season in which its offense floundered under Harbaugh, a former quarterback who had a reputation for developing QBs. But the Wolverines finished 109th in the country in yards per pass attempt in 2017.
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“Quarterback position, don’t have any announcements to make today about that,” Harbaugh said at Big Ten media days.
Michigan opens the season Sept. 1 at Notre Dame and if Patterson is not the quarterback that will be even bigger news than his transfer to Michigan.
Patterson played three games as a freshman in 2016 at Mississippi, passing for 880 yards and six touchdowns. Last season, Patterson played the first seven games, throwing for 2,259 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions before tearing a ligament in his right knee.
He completed about 64 percent of passes.
In April, the NCAA granted Patterson’s request to waive the usually required redshirt season at his new school, making him eligible to play this year at Michigan.
“Shea Patterson went through all of spring practice with our team and got great work in there. Played really well,” Harbaugh said.
Some other notable names at new places:
SAIVION SMITH, DB, Alabama
It’s a reloading year in the secondary for the defending national champions, who must replace all four starters. Smith, a junior college transfer and former five-star LSU signee, is among the talented reinforcements. He could have an immediate impact in a defensive backfield short on experience.
JOE BURROW, QB, LSU
The former Ohio State quarterback played behind J.T. Barrett for two seasons. Burrow will compete for a starting job with the Tigers, who are installing a new offense under new coordinator Steve Ensminger and have been searching for high-level quarterback play for a while.
ANTONIO WILLIAMS, RB North Carolina
Another former Buckeye , Williams was lined up behind two stars in Columbus. The former highly touted recruit cited opportunity and family in returning to his home state. Williams played one game with six carries as a freshman, then 12 more as a reserve last year.
ALOHI GILMAN, S, Notre Dame
Gilman sat out last year after transferring from Navy, where he made 76 tackles as a freshman. A versatile defender, Gilman could provide stability at a position where the Irish struggled in 2017.
WILTON SPEIGHT, QB, UCLA
While Patterson arrived, Wilton Speight left Michigan and headed to UCLA , where he could play for new coach Chip Kelly as a graduate transfer. Speight passed for 2,538 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2016 but was sidelined after four games last fall with three broken vertebrae. He’ll be in the mix to replace three-year starter Josh Rosen, who was a first-round NFL draft choice of the Arizona Cardinals.
“So you’re getting a guy that’s got some maturity to him and has been there, done that. He’s there for a reason,” Kelly said about Speight.
JALEN HURD, WR, Baylor
The former Tennessee Volunteer running back’s transition to receiver is as notable as his school switch. Hurd was 440 yards shy of Tennessee’s career rushing record when he left midway through his junior season in 2016. He’s eligible for the Bears this season, when he’ll play wideout.
Six more transfers that could have an impact on their new teams, with former schools in parentheses.
K.J. Carta-Samuels, QB, Colorado State (Washington)
Keller Chryst, QB, Tennessee (Stanford)
Jordan Cronkrite, RB, USF (Florida)
Jonathan Hilliman, RB, Rutgers (Boston College)
J.T. Ibe, S, South Carolina (Rice)
Tre Watson, RB, Texas (California)
AP Sports Writer Mitch Stacy in Columbus, Ohio contributed to this story.
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