College football 2018: Top 30 breakout players to watch

Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images
Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images /
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Shea Patterson #20 of the Mississippi Rebels (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
Shea Patterson #20 of the Mississippi Rebels (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Shea Patterson isn’t as much of an unknown as several players on this list. He started seven games and threw for 2,259 yards at Ole Miss last year before an injury cut his season short. After transferring to Michigan, he was ruled eligible and is being picked by many experts as one of the best quarterbacks in the Big Ten this season.

To anyone who has Patterson slated as the second or third best quarterback in the Big Ten, all due respect but I’m afraid you’re just wrong. He will be, unequivocally, the best quarterback in the conference and he’ll give Michigan the one thing they’ve been missing since Jim Harbaugh arrived in Ann Arbor.

Patterson averaged over 300 passing yards a game as a sophomore at Ole Miss behind one of the worst offensive lines in the conference, playing for a program in overall disarray. At Michigan, he’ll have a solid offensive line, tons of weapons around him, and a defense that will actually hold and lead and get the ball back in his hands without giving up seven points every time it sees the field. Oh and not to mention one of the best coaches at any level in terms of developing quarterbacks Jim Harbaugh.

Unlike some of the players Harbaugh has had to work with, Patterson is incredibly gifted in terms of arm strength, poise and composure in the pocket, and athleticism to escape, extend plays and turn broken plays into huge gains on the ground.

He is an incredibly accurate passer on the run and maybe the most noteworthy aspect of his game is that he always keeps his eyes downfield outside of the pocket and doesn’t ever look to run the ball unless it’s his last option. He makes the kinds of plays that break and demoralize defenses to pick up first downs and big yardage after they’ve done everything right and should have had him wrapped up.

Harbaugh will use all of those skills to the advantage of Michigan’s offense, rolling him out of the pocket, using the threat of the run to keep defenses on their toes and will put Patterson in better situations than he’s ever experienced.

If anyone is reading this and thinking I’m insane for putting Patterson ahead of Trace McSorley, say whatever you want now but watch this season and see what happens. I’ll repost this in December either way.