Bob Wojnowski, Matt Charboneau and Angelique Chengelis preview the MSU-Wisconsin, UM-Illinois games on The Detroit News' College Football Show. The Detroit News
Ann Arbor — When former Michigan quarterback Brandon Peters transferred to Illinois in the summer, suddenly the Wolverines’ first visit to Memorial Stadium in eight years took on a new level of interest.
But Peters’ status for Saturday’s game has not been officially confirmed after he left last week’s game against Minnesota with an “upper-body” injury. His lack of availability would be a disappointment to his former Michigan teammates, who have been eager to play against him. The 16th-ranked Wolverines (4-1, 2-1 Big Ten) face Illinois (2-3, 0-2) this weekend and have won 10 of the last 12 meetings.
“It will be good to see him,” Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson said this week. “He’s one of my good buddies. Regardless if he plays or not, he’s one of my really good friends. I’ll see him when I see him.”
Peters was recruited to Michigan by coach Jim Harbaugh. He finally got a chance to take over as starter late in 2017 but suffered a concussion at Wisconsin and he was held him out of the season finale against Ohio State. He and the offense had a rough showing in the bowl game and during that offseason, Patterson transferred from Ole Miss.
“He never really voiced any displeasure to me,” said Michigan left tackle Jon Runyan, who was Peters’ roommate. “After that 2017 season, he was full on board with trying to win this spot, even with Shea transferring and not knowing his eligibility (status). And he battled really hard through spring ball and fall camp, and they declared Shea the starter halfway through camp.
“In the end, he did what was best for him, and he’s in a pretty good place right now.”
Patterson won the starting job and Dylan McCaffrey became the backup, pushing Peters deeper in the depth chart. By last December, Runyan said Peters decided it would be best to transfer.
After graduating, Peters put himself on the transfer market and landed at Illinois after talks with some Mid-American Conference programs. As the starter, he has gone 74-of-127 for 797 yards and thrown 10 touchdowns against four interceptions.
Michigan linebacker Jordan Glasgow hopes to exercise some tough football love with Peters on Saturday. Illinois coach Lovie Smith said earlier this week he would not discuss injuries but said he hoped Peters would be “ready to go.” If he can’t play, redshirt freshman Matt Robinson is expected to start.
Michigan left tackle Jon Runyan shares his insights on Illinois QB Brandon Peters, his former roommate. Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News
“I’m excited to hit a quarterback that’s on my team — that was on my team,” Glasgow said earlier this week. “He was a good friend of mine while he was here and it’s gonna be fun to play against him and hopefully we put him on the ground a lot. Hopefully nothing happens, but I want to make his day as rough as possible.”
The Wolverines sacked Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley eight times last Saturday and, consequently, held the Hawkeyes to one yard rushing. The Illini, which lost to Eastern Michigan, 34-31, this season, has struggled on both sides of the ball.
Still, the addition of Peters, considered a highly promising prospect when Harbaugh recruited him to Michigan, has given Illinois’ offense some life.
“I really liked Brandon a lot and he won us ballgames,” Harbaugh said Monday. “Been following him, and I’d say the same for how he’s playing at Illinois. Good player.”
He also was a good friend and teammate. Runyan said the old roommates still play Mario Kart together and stay in touch. In fact, Peters, who was always quiet and hardly the most revealing, began to use Runyan as a sounding board. His college career at Michigan wasn’t going the way anyone had projected and during bowl game preparations last December, Runyan said Peters began to consider transferring.
To ensure immediate eligibility, Peters shouldered an enormous course load so he could graduate in the spring. He has two years of eligibility.
He was always studying, and I was there just watching him,” Runyan said, drawing laughs. “I felt bad for him, but he eventually did what’s best for him.”
Peters began to visit different schools where he might continue his playing career before deciding to join Smith at Illinois. Regardless of his status at game time Saturday, the Michigan players want him to flourish at Illinois.
“He’s got his stuff going on, and we’ve got ours,” Glasgow said. “But I wish him the best — except when he plays us.”
Michigan at Illinois
Kickoff: Noon Saturday, Memorial Stadium, Champaign, Ill.
Records: No. 16 Michigan 4-1, 2-1 Big Ten; Illinois 2-3, 0-2
Line: Michigan by 20