Since Jim Harbaugh took over Michigan, the Wolverines have relied on transfer quarterbacks, to pretty mixed results. Iowa transfer Jake Rudock was a nice surprise for UM in year one, but guys like John O’Korn and the inherited Wilton Speight were less effective. Now, another transfer quarterback is expected to start at Michigan: former Ole Miss star Shea Patterson.
Hopes for Patterson are high. He is, of course, not leaving Oxford because he could not cut it in the SEC. Rather, due to the fallout from a few different scandals that hit the program, he elected to reboot his college career elsewhere.
No program would turn down a five-star quarterback talent like Patterson. However, some programs like Michigan have been very reliant on guys coming in from other programs, and that could wind up creating an unhealthy dependency.
SI’s Andy Staples argues that a reliance on transfer quarterbacks could have a negative impact on recruiting.
Naturally, he compared how Michigan has handled things under Harbaugh to Ohio State. Urban Meyer has been very good at bringing quarterbacks into the program through recruiting.
It certainly will be something opposing coaches use against the Wolverines in recruiting if it keeps up. In Harbaugh’s three seasons at Michigan, his starters have been Jake Rudock (Iowa graduate transfer), Wilton Speight (inherited from Brady Hoke), John O’Korn (Houston transfer) and Brandon Peters (recruited by Harbaugh’s staff). Speight has transferred to UCLA, and Peters may get supplanted by Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson. So here is what Urban Meyer might say if he finds himself recruiting the same quarterback as the Wolverines.
Player: I’m also considering Michigan.
Meyer: Remember J.T. Barrett?
Player: Of course.
Meyer: I signed him. You know Dwayne Haskins?
Player: Your new starter?
Meyer: The very same. I signed him, too. Do you know how many of my starting quarterbacks I inherited or signed at Florida and Ohio State?
Player: How many?
Meyer: All of them. Now who would you rather sign with?
Staples raises similar issues at schools like Florida and LSU. Neither has had a secure quarterback position in some time, and both have brought in a number of transfers.
The one school that has done well in this type of system is West Virginia. Will Grier is a potential Heisman contender, and leads many lists for the best quarterback in the country heading into the 2018 season.
Somewhat ironically, the school he left… is Florida. He was thriving with the Gators, until a failed PED test led to a suspension and eventual transfer. Like Patterson, it wasn’t because a lack of playing time success on field. Those types of transfers are not the norm.
So yes, taking in a big name transfer quarterbacks can be an attractive option for a team in need. And there is a good chance that Patterson works out spectacularly for the Wolverines. However, it is probably the most sustainable way to build a program, something that Jim Harbaugh is likely aware of.