Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson can now be referred to as “former” Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson. He’s transferring to Michigan.

A former 5-star signee out of Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy for the class of 2016, Patterson was the No. 1 QB, No. 1 prospect in the state of Florida and No. 4 player overall less than two years ago. What a catch he was for the Rebels.

But since Patterson put pen to paper, not much has gone right for the Mississippi program. The coach he originally signed with, Hugh Freeze, left Oxford in total disgrace after details about his personal life — on a school-issued cell phone, Coach? Really? — became public. The NCAA just handed down further sanctions a week and a half ago, too.

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This rumor has been swirling for quite some time, but Patterson made it official Monday from his Twitter account.

“Thank you to the wonderful people, teammates and coaches at Ole Miss,” he wrote. “It is a special place, and I will always have great memories of my experiences in Oxford. I am now excited to announce my commitment to continue my athletic and academic career at the University of Michigan. It’s time to go to work.”

The Rebs are already done for 2017 after finishing 6-6, as a self-imposed bowl ban prevented them from a postseason invitation despite enough wins to qualify for one. Matt Luke was elevated Nov. 25 from interim to full-time coach.

It wouldn’t have been a shock if Patterson had decided to transfer prior to the start of the year, as he and Freeze were awfully close — he chose Ole Miss over USC, LSU and others — and Luke had no head-coaching experience to his credit. The 6-foot-2, 203-pounder admirably remained loyal to his teammates, though.

However, based on everything that’s happened since Freeze was exposed, one can hardly blame Patterson for making a change.

Patterson is a unique talent, with a strong arm to make all the throws and shifty legs to evade any pass rusher, so he has a bright NFL future. Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh developed No. 1-overall pick Andrew Luck while the two of them were at Stanford.

Rightfully so, players like Patterson have been generating some sympathy in the court of public opinion.

A pair of senior signal callers, Wilton Speight and John O’Korn, played relatively poorly for Harbaugh in 2017. They combined to complete 53.6 percent of their passes in Ann Arbor with a weak touchdown-to-interception ratio of 5-to-8. Speight was a 3-star recruit in high school, while O’Korn was a transfer himself from Houston.

Rising junior Brandon Peters flashed some potential down the stretch, although Patterson offers genuine dual-threat ability.

Will Patterson be eligible to play for Michigan right away? That remains to be seen. He’ll be a third-year junior in 2018 and isn’t anywhere near graduation, so presumably he’ll have to sit out a year as an FBS-to-FBS transfer.

That being said, it’s possible he could petition the NCAA for immediate eligibility. As of right now, only rising seniors are being allowed to leave the Rebels without penalty — graduate transfers, of course, can always suit up immediately. Rightfully so, players like Patterson (below) have been generating some sympathy in the court of public opinion.

Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

The Wolverines were a disappointing 8-4 during the regular season, but they’re a young team. Patterson might make them a contender.

Back in the Magnolia State, the situation may not be so desperate after all. Because Patterson got hurt in Week 8, Luke and Co. got an extended look at reserve Jordan Ta’amu and surely liked what they saw from the JUCO addition.

Because Ole Miss isn't playing in a bowl game, that's 15 practices Luke won't have -- those are more important than any holiday trip to, say, Birmingham -- to mold his new field general in preparation for the following season.

As a matter of fact, an argument can be made that Ta’amu was more efficient running Mississippi’s high-powered system — Freeze may have been gone, but the scheme remained — than Patterson. Not only did he have a higher completion percentage (66.5 to 63.8), but his TD-to-INT ratio was in better balance (11-to-4 to 17-to-9).

To be fair, Patterson started against the likes of Alabama, Auburn and LSU. Ta’amu didn’t face an elite SEC defense.

“I’ve been very impressed with Jordan,” Luke said Nov. 16 when I asked him about Ta’amu. “It was obvious that he had ability. You knew that he could throw. He could run it, hurt you with his legs. I guess what you didn’t know was his poise in the pocket and then leadership capabilities.”

When Patterson departed the LSU game Oct. 21 with a knee injury, the Rebs could’ve completely fallen apart. Instead, Ta’amu won three of his five starts. Most important, he helped upset Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl on Thanksgiving.

“He’s a very laid back, almost shy kid,” Luke said of Ta’amu. “To see that energy and that passion on the field, that’s something you didn’t see in practice. I’ve been very impressed with him, and you couldn’t have asked for a better start.”

With Patterson having packed his bags, Ta’amu is the presumed starter heading into spring ball. Because Ole Miss isn’t playing in a bowl game, that’s 15 practices Luke won’t have — those are more important than any holiday trip to, say, Birmingham — to mold his new field general in preparation for the following season.

We also have to wait and see what kind of supporting cast Ta’amu will have at his disposal. Ole Miss isn’t out of the woods yet.

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The Rebels can’t go to a bowl next year, either. As a result, Patterson isn’t the first player to hand in his cardinal-red-and-navy-blue uniform. He’s simply the latest. The projected recruiting class is only ranked 66th, as well.

That’s a far cry from fifth in the country just two National Signing Days ago, when Patterson was the crown jewel of a haul that included fellow 5-star studs Greg Little — he’s a second-team all-conference selection already — and Benito Jones in the trenches. Fortunately, Ta’amu still has Biletnikoff Award finalist A.J. Brown catching passes.

They say the most popular player on any team is the No. 2 quarterback. With Patterson now a memory, Ta’amu’s popularity will be tested next season like never before.