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A look at the Wolverines’ 2018 regular-season schedule, which opens at Notre Dame on Sept. 1, and finishes at Ohio State on Nov. 24. Video by Ryan Ford, Detroit Free Press
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Shea Patterson’s eligibility quest may be coming to a close soon, one way or another. 

But neither Michigan nor the quarterback has any concrete indication whether or not he’ll be able to play in 2018.

Still, both sides are controlling what they can control. 

Patterson has been a full participant in Michigan’s spring practice since drills began last month. He was set to make his public debut Saturday in Michigan’s spring game, but the Wolverines called off the event due to weather concerns. 

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Asked how challenging this uncertainty has been throughout spring camp, coach Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday that Patterson and the Wolverines are doing all they can. 

“Shea’s practicing very well,” Harbaugh said. “He’s going about his business. Taking care of it nicely. He’s controlling what he can control and we’re treating it the same way as a coaching staff. And as a team.” 

Patterson left Ole Miss after two seasons and began the process of putting together an appeal for immediate eligibility. He, and a handful of other Rebel players, claimed they were misled during the recruiting process by the Ole Miss staff (including former head coach Hugh Freeze) with regard to an NCAA investigation and potential penalties. 

Ole Miss received a two-year bowl ban as a result of said investigation, prompting Patterson to transfer. 

Michigan began to recruit Patterson back in December shortly after ex-quarterback Wilton Speight announced his intention to play elsewhere as a fifth-year senior. Before the month was over, the Wolverines received a commitment from the former five-star passer, who was rated as the nation’s No. 1 quarterback in the 2016 class. 

Michigan has handed over its formal appeal to the NCAA. Ole Miss has objected. Still, Patterson’s attorney believes the quarterback will be allowed to play football for Michigan this fall. 

“I have never believed that the odds of Shea getting a waiver were any less than 75 percent. And there have been times I thought they were a lot higher,” attorney Thomas Mars told the Free Press on Tuesday. “And, frankly, right now I don’t think my confidence level has been any higher.” 

“There are things that happen that cause you to change your confidence level, adjust it accordingly. That’s part of the process. But because of some recent events that are part of this process, my confidence about Shea being under center for Michigan this fall is at an all-time high.” 

If Patterson’s allowed to compete this season, the Wolverines’ passing game may get a boost. 

Michigan quarterbacks threw for just nine touchdowns last season, the fewest since 1975. Without Speight, scholarship quarterbacks Brandon Peters, Dylan McCaffrey and Joe Milton have combined to make four career starts and four touchdown passes (all from Peters). 

Patterson made seven starts last season, throwing for 2,259 yards, 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions. The yardage and touchdown numbers were higher than anything Michigan’s three passers (Peters, Speight and John O’Korn) mustered through 13 games last season. 

“They’ve all been great,” Michigan receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones said of the quarterbacks this week. “They’ve all brought different aspects. They’re competing really hard.” 

Is Patterson a talented quarterback? Yes. An established quarterback? Time will tell. 

Quarterback is not Michigan’s only question mark. The offensive line needs work. The wide receivers need to mature. But the passing game starts with the guy under center. And Michigan’s gone through spring drills without a clear answer of who will be the front-runner once summer begins. 

Still, Mars believes it’s realistic to expect a decision from the NCAA before the month is over. If Patterson’s granted eligibility, Michigan’s offensive prospects should see a boost. 

He still needs to learn everything about Michigan’s offense and the Wolverines need to decide if they need to tailor their attack for him. And, on top of that, he needs to beat out Peters, McCaffrey and Milton — all touted recruits brought to Michigan by Harbaugh. 

They’ve all controlled what they can control. 

Though none of it has been particularly easy on anyone involved. 

“People don’t see the type of toll this NCAA waiver process takes on a student-athlete, especially one in Shea’s position. And he’s shown himself to be an extraordinarily mature young man,” Mars added. “He found himself in the midst of an embarrassing national scandal created by (Freeze) of epic proportions that threatened the future of the Ole Miss football program. Throughout that ordeal, the record shows Shea stood strong. 

“I don’t have any doubt, nor does his father, that Shea has the mental fortitude and the ability to deal with the kind of additional pressure this process has created.” 

Contact Nick Baumgardner: nbaumgardn@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter:  @nickbaumgardner.

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