Senior quarterback Radcliff will get final look at MSU
Ryan Radcliff stood on the sideline in anticipation as quarterback Dan LeFevour got the play call to go for the two-point conversion Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009.
LeFevour was put into a dream-scenario for a quarterback.
He was given one chance to take the lead against in-state rival Michigan State with 32 seconds remaining in a 27-26 battle at Spartan Stadium.
“I was riding an emotional roller coaster like anyone else, needing the two-point conversion at the end of a game,” Radcliff said. “Wishing, hoping, praying — the usual stuff.”
Central Michigan’s No. 1 quarterback failed to connect on the conversion, but an onside kick gave the Chippewas a second chance.
And they made good on it — hitting a 42-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining in the game.
Radcliff celebrated with his team, quietly looking forward to the day he earned his chance.
“I definitely would have loved to have been out there with the guys on the field, but at the same time, I was pumped for them and that the work they had put in paid off,” he said. “I knew someday I would get an opportunity, I just didn’t know when or who against.”
And got his chance he did.
Lefevour went on to graduate following the 2009 season, and Radcliff proved himself worthy of the starting job.
As a sophomore, he took the reins, and one year later he was given the chance to repeat at Spartan Stadium.
Unfortunately, the game didn’t go as planned for the Sherwood, Ohio native.
Completing just 11 of his 29 passes, Radcliff threw two interceptions and tallied just 87 yards as the Chippewas fell to the Spartans 45-7.
“Being on both sides of the ball, you see the high and you see the low,” Radcliff said. “When it was high, it was pretty high, and when it was low, it was pretty low. Obviously, I don’t want to be back on that low side, but it’s going to be a good game.”
On Saturday, the senior will get his final chance against MSU.
He has seen the high, he has seen the low, and now he’ll repeat one or the other.
“(The game) means everything, and obviously it’s a big game because it’s the next game on our schedule,” Radcliff said. “It’s exciting that we’re going to get a Big-Ten school in ole’ Kelly/Shorts Stadium, and we’re going to pack it out.”
Many current upperclassmen had the luxury of watching LeFevour lead the Chippewas into battle week in and week out.
The Downers Grove, Ill. native left big shoes to fill when he graduated and was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the sixth round of the 2010 NFL Draft. He set Mid-American Conference records for total offense, passing yards, touchdown passes, completions and attempts during his time at CMU.
“A lot of the linemen I came in to play with were Dan’s guys, and he’d always been their quarterback, so it was hard to gain their trust,” Radcliff said. “Now, they’re kind of my guys, and it’s the same with the receivers and running backs. It’s just been about earning their trust and progressing into the offense.”
Since LeFevour’s departure, Radcliff has quietly slid into those shoes, heading into his senior season ranked second all-time at CMU in passing yards (6,759), completions (549), touchdown passes (42), career total offense (6,639) and games with 300+ passing yards (10).
His strength hasn’t ever been brought into question, though his biggest critics have questioned his steadiness.
“The big (area of improvement) is going to be the consistency thing,” quarterback coach Morris Watts said. “He’s got a strong enough arm; he’s got all the things you look for in a quarterback. If he just develops a game within a game with consistency and from game-to-game.”
Even Radcliff himself said his on-field judgment has been a work in progress.
“I think decision-making has been a progression, and I’m still in it,” he said.
Radcliff finished five games last season with at least two interceptions, averaging a completion percentage of 53 and 222 passing yards.
In his other seven starts, Radcliff averaged 311 yards per game, finding the end zone 16 times and averaging a completion percentage of 58.
“The number one thing we felt (Radcliff) had to do this year over last year … I mean, he played some great football last year, but he struggled at times with inconsistency from game-to-game and sometimes within a game,” Watts said. “That’s the big thing we’re wanting him to do, and it’s hard to make that statement right now with just one game, but his mindset toward doing that is outstanding.”
Atop the ranks
Radcliff has made his name known at CMU. He has made his name known around the state of Michigan and the MAC.
But his name ranks even higher in the state of Ohio.
Originally from Sherwood, Radcliff ranks second all-time in the state of Ohio’s high school football history in two stat columns: career passing yards and touchdown passes.
He also set 13 records as a quarterback at Fairview High School.
“It was cool in high school, and it helped me get recruited, but really, that’s where it all ends,” Radcliff said. “Once you get to college, the slate is wiped clean, and you start fresh.”
In 2006, Radcliff set a record in the state of Ohio during the season’s opening game with 678 passing yards with nine touchdown passes in a 68-41 victory. In his four years at Fairview, he recorded 11,038 yards and 139 touchdowns, posting a 22-5 record as the starting quarterback.
The four-year collegiate football player didn’t limit himself to one sport either.
In high school, he played varsity baseball for four years and basketball for two.
He was drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 34th round of the 2008 Major League Draft, though he said football was his passion all along.
“It was awesome that they thought enough of me as a ball player to draft me out of high school,” Radcliff said. “But for me, my mind had been made up to play football for quite some time before I got drafted, and that’s what I ended up sticking with.”
The senior quarterback has at least another 11 games to put the finishing touches on his football résumé. From there, he’ll turn his gaze to the NFL, hoping to capture the football dream – a career playing the game he loves.
At this point, he’s set the groundwork, and only time will tell if he’ll find a new home in football or hang up his pads and dive into the world of accounting.
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