The familiar name will be the face of the Michigan Panthers, the new professional soccer team set to start playing this spring.
Quarterback Shea Patterson, who started with a two-year spell in Michigan and drew immediate eligibility for college athletics, ranked first overall in the restarted NFL draft on Tuesday.
The Panthers, who will wear their azure, maroon, and gold uniforms unique to the franchise during its original mid-1980s show, announce this Tuesday evening on social media.
Why Patterson? Well, USFL rules dictated that every team pick a quarterback in the first round (with others in the later rounds), and Patterson doesn’t have much these days.
He went without drafting in the NFL after leaving Michigan after the 2019 season, and has since bounced around the outskirts of football — breaking the British Columbia Lions coaching team in 2021, serving as the third quarterback for a team Montreal. Allouetes, and even appeared in the Spring Designer for Television League last year.
In fact, Patterson has spent the past several months around the Michigan football program. He traveled with the team to Florida for the Orange Bowl, and has since parked himself inside Schembechler Hall trying to stay in shape and work toward his degree.
Patterson’s time in Michigan was turbulent, starting with his drama petition with the NCAA to gain immediate eligibility after his transfer from Ole Miss. He eventually earned it, paving the way for his two seasons as the Wolverines Championship.
He threw for 2,600 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2018, earning a third team honor all in the Big Ten as Michigan went 10-3 and reached the Peach Bowl. His 2019 season was arguably better — Patterson threw 3,061 yards and 23 touchdowns, but he took some time to adjust to a new offense under first year coordinator Josh Gates.
As a result, Michigan felt frustrated in 2019, going 9-4 and failing to make the Big Ten championship game, despite being the pre-season favorite to win the conference.
Patterson has been criticized in the past for his size (he’s only 6 feet 1, 212 pounds) and accuracy, but his athleticism and Moxy made him a top-tier talent in college. Now he will get another chance to keep his dream of playing professional football.
The USFL season is set to begin in April in Birmingham, Alabama, where the eight teams will play a 10-game schedule in games scheduled to be broadcast on FOX, FS1, NBC and USA Network. A four-team playoff will follow in Canton, Ohio.
Longtime NFL coach Jeff Fisher has been named coach of the Panthers.