UM mailbag: Don’t hand Patterson starting job just yet

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

I lobbied my boss to make this a Star Wars mailbag, but that was nixed, so Michigan football will be the focus (although it’s killing me not to share my theories about Rey, Luke Skywalker and Kylo Ren) of the, well, Michigan football mailbag. Shocking though it may be, the majority of interest is in Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson, who announced Monday he’s enrolling at Michigan.

■ Question: Is there any question Shea starts over Peters-McCaffrey-Milton (and will Milton redshirt) this year? If he does, which QB will leave? — @callmejimboB

Quarterback Shea Patterson transferred from Ole Miss to Michigan, and will battle for the starting job with Brandon Peters and Dylan McCaffrey.

■ Answer: Assuming Patterson is eligible to play immediately, right? Of course, that’s what you meant. But you’re assuming that Brandon Peters is going to cower and not compete? I spoke to Peters’ father the other day, and he made it clear that his son is welcoming the challenge and the competition.

Should we assume that Jim Harbaugh has made guarantees to Patterson? I probably fall into the he-wouldn’t-be-coming-here-to-sit category, but it’s also not going to be handed to him. Also remember, Peters has worked with pass-game coordinator Pep Hamilton for nearly a year, and has been at Michigan and in the system for two years. Those things count for something.

Frankly, this could be one of the best quarterback competitions at Michigan in a long time. McCaffrey will be a redshirt freshman, and from everything I’ve heard, he’s a dynamite prospect with a long career ahead at Michigan. I don’t envision him leaving, and Joe Milton likely — and wisely — should redshirt next fall.

Maybe Patterson will win the job, but after watching this season and seeing two quarterbacks head to the hospital, there can never be enough talented quarterbacks. It’s always a challenge to keep all the quarterbacks happy. That will be among Harbaugh’s challenges, but right now, I don’t seen anyone moving along.

■ Q. How good is Shea Patterson really? According to my sources, he hasn’t won ANY Heisman trophies or national championships. — @oldmancoyote22

■ A. OMC, aren’t there a lot of “good” quarterbacks out there who haven’t won a Heisman or a national title? Is that the only way you grade a quarterback? So simple, even for you. I have watched some video of Patterson and am impressed by his athleticism and ability to extend plays. He is an exciting player, but sometimes those are the quarterbacks who are predisposed to making more mistakes. I’m going to be very curious how Harbaugh shapes the offense around him, or will Patterson be molded to operate in Harbaugh’s system? Why don’t you check with your sources.

■ Q. If Shea Patterson gets to play next year, is he a one-year player and off to the draft since he is a junior? Odds NCAA clears him? — @TheCincyBuckeye

■ A. First of all, CincyBuckeye, what the heck are you doing in the Michigan mailbag? Did you lose your way? This is not the mailbag you’re looking for (Oh! Subtle Star Wars joke!). I’ve thrown out there the possibility that maybe Patterson could be a one-and-done. I don’t know that. Just mentioned it as a possibility IF he starts and has a terrific year. I think the odds are good the NCAA clears him and his fellow non-rising senior Ole Miss transfers.

■ Q. Who are you thinking will start at the OT positions next year? Hudson, Bushell-Beatty, Filiaga, Newsome (assuming he’s healthy) or someone else? — @AttorneyRodenbo

■ A. All this talk of quarterbacks, and now it’s time to talk about the most important piece of the Michigan puzzle next season — the offensive line. So, Attorney, you followed up that tweet with your projected starters — Hudson, Bredeson, Ruiz, Onwenu and Spanellis.

I’m going to change things up a bit. Quite a bit. A few people have mentioned to me late this season the strong possibility Stephen Spanellis — he of the 3.968 grade-point average — could be the next center. When center Patrick Kugler was asked the other day if Cesar Ruiz is ready to move into the starting job, he also mentioned Spanellis possibly taking over.

So let’s say Spanellis is at center next fall, Ruiz got in some starts at right guard when Michael Onwenu was out with injury. Ruiz played well. Onwenu, who likely will work on dropping about 20 pounds before next season, also was improving the more he started.

Spanellis flanked by Ruiz and Onwenu, but what about Ben Bredeson a starter at left guard for the better part of two seasons? Didn’t he arrive at Michigan backing up left tackle? He worked at right tackle a bit during preseason camp in August. Perhaps he takes over at left tackle and then right tackle -- now that will be a competition. Juwann Bushell-Beatty will be back. Jon Runyan Jr., Nolan Ulizio, who started there early in the season, and Chuck Filiaga could all be competing for that job. Let’s compare notes on Sept. 1!

Michigan offensive lineman Stephen Spanellis could be in line to start at center next season.

■ Q. What was the best senior story, quote or speech (Tuesday) night? — @mowo12

■ A. Monique, I thought freshman fullback Ben Mason told an amusing story after being awarded toughest player on the team. It went something like this — a really cold game in high school, and he was wearing his sleeves. His father approached him with scissors and hacked off the sleeves. That’s one way to develop toughness. Mason delivered his speech with a booming voice.

■ Q. I’ve often wondered why the football bust is not held in Ann Arbor, instead of Livonia. AA has many meeting areas capable of hosting such an event. And plus, well, it’s the home of @UMichfootball — @jackiegarris

■ A. Jackie, the event is held by the Alumni Club of Greater Detroit, and for many years the bust was held in downtown Detroit. It has been held at the Laurel Manor for as long as I can remember so it qualifies as a “greater Detroit” event and also not too far from Ann Arbor. I wouldn’t expect it to move from the Laurel Manor.

Q. Any chance Pep leaves? — @MikeCandela33

■ A. Mike, looks like most of the college jobs have been taken. I suppose there’s always the potential for an NFL job, but I haven’t heard a word on that front.

May the Force Be With (all of) You.