Michigan's head coach told a group of supporters during a luncheon in Ann Arbor on Monday that the team's plan is to start junior Shea Patterson at quarterback when the Wolverines visit Notre Dame on Sept. 1.
The Free Press confirmed Harbaugh's comments with a person who was at the event. Michigan football spokesman Dave Ablauf also confirmed the news, as Harbaugh told alums at the M Club of Ann Arbor's Monday luncheon held at Weber's Inn in Ann Arbor.
Harbaugh told the team his decision earlier in the day Monday.
Patterson, who transferred to Michigan from Ole Miss during the offseason, beat out redshirt sophomore Brandon Peters, redshirt freshman Dylan McCaffrey and true freshman Joe Milton.
A week ago, during his only fall camp meeting with reporters, Harbaugh said he hadn't made a decision with regard to his starting quarterback, only saying he wanted to make up his mind "sooner rather than later."
He maintained that there wasn't a great deal of separation between his quarterbacks at the time, claiming that the heightened competition brought on by Patterson's arrival had increased the level of play throughout the room.
"That position has been very competitive, probably (one of) our most competitive position battles going on," Harbaugh said at the time. "And like I said, none of them have given in. None of them have dropped off.
"So, it rages on."
That process has been completed, and while it comes as little surprise, this is the first time since taking the job at Michigan that Harbaugh has publicly named a starting quarterback before his team has taken the field for its season opener.
The Wolverines did not formally name a starter in 2015, though most believed the job was Jake Rudock's throughout. Wilton Speight beat out John O'Korn and Shane Morris during the final days of camp in 2016 and Speight edged O'Korn just before the start of the 2017 season a year ago.
Now, Michigan has two full weeks to rep Patterson with the starting offense.
With 10 starts, 3,139 career passing yards and 23 touchdowns (along with 12 interceptions), Patterson has more major college playing experience than his three competitors combined.
Peters is the only other quarterback on the roster who has seen game action, throwing for 672 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions in six appearances last season.
After opting to transfer to Michigan in December, Patterson — who eventually won a lengthy appeal for immediate eligibility from the NCAA — was able to take part in all 15 of the Wolverines' spring sessions.
Michigan players and staffers have raved about his mobility and overall pocket awareness both with the Wolverines' traditional offense and any spread wrinkles that the team has put in place over the course of the past year.
Patterson's biggest hurdle in spring was familiarizing himself with his surroundings.
“Every day is a work in progress. I definitely feel comfortable and have great coaches helping me,” Patterson said back in April. “But repetition, repetition, repetition. ... We got a lot of reps and I feel comfortable with it.
“I feel like being able to adapt is one of my qualities. I can get along with anybody. But the guys did a great job of taking me in and making me feel comfortable.”
Asked last week what the biggest difference was between Patterson's play then and now, Harbaugh's answer was simple.
He's more comfortable with everything.
And as a result, Michigan's ready to ride with him as its starting quarterback.
"Having a grasp of the offense No. 1, time on task, really learning the nuance of the offense," Harbaugh said. "That's greatly improved since the spring."