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On pursuit of culture change, CMU's McElwain makes moves over winter break


Jim McElwain, CMU's latest football head coach talks his plans for the future of the program on Dec. 3 at the John G. Kulhavi Events Center.

Since the conclusion of the fall semester, much has changed with the Central Michigan football team.

Looking past the firing of now-former coach John Bonamego and hiring of new coach Jim McElwain, two entities which occurred while school was still in session, pristine updates have emerged.

For starters, McElwain wiped nearly all of Bonamego's staff – keeping tight ends coach Tavita Thompson, defensive backs coach Cory Hall and offensive line coach Derek Frazier.

Those not returning include defensive coordinator Greg Colby, offensive coordinator Chris Ostrowsky, special teams coordinator Tony Coaxum, linebackers coach Mike Dietzel, running backs coach Jayden Everett, wide receivers coach Marcus Knight and defensive line coach George Ricumstrict.

Since the departure of those coaches, McElwain added Kevin Barbay as the wide receivers coach and Robb Akey as the defensive coordinator. McElwain also brought on Jake Kostner in what seems to be a graduate assistant role from the University of Michigan.

McElwain also has former NFL quarterback Charlie Frye as the quarterbacks coach for the Chippewas. Frye played for the Cleveland Browns (2005-07), Seattle Seahawks (2007-08) and Oakland Raiders (2009) after being selected in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft from Akron.

Frye threw for 4,154 yards, 17 touchdowns and 29 interceptions in the NFL.

"Let's face it, the offense fills up the stadium, people enjoy it," McElwain said. "Any old ball coach will tell you it's about blocking and tackling, but how you do it and how you attack, that's the fun part."

On the defensive side of the ball, the Chippewas secured a linebackers coach in Mark DeBastiani – the former defensive coordinator for Alabama A&M. McElwain also picked up Justin Hinds as the defensive line coach. Hinds was formally the defensive line coach at Samford University, and he worked under McElwain as a graduate assistant in 2015 at Florida.

DeBastiani coached under McElwain for three years at Florida before accepting a job at Alabama A&M prior to the 2018 season.

McElwain, after bringing in a plethora of coaches, jumped on a special teams coach in Ryan Beard, a now-former Louisville assistant. Beard is the son-in-law of former Louisville football coach Bobby Petrino. With the Cardinals, Beard began as a defensive quality control assistant and was hired as the safeties coach prior to the 2018 season.

"I think the parts we have here are something that we can exploit in a positive way to create explosive plays."

Along with adding Houston graduate transfer quarterback Quinten Dormandy, CMU inked 17 other prospects in the early signing period, which runs from Dec. 19 to Dec. 21.

The Chippewas added Dormandy, wide receiver Darrell Wyatt, defensive end Max Saylor, offensive lineman Danny Motowski, quarterback Daniel Richardson, offensive tackle Cameron Vaughn, cornerback Demarcus Governor, linebacker Logan Guthrie, running back Lew Nichols III, cornerback Kyron McKinnie-Harper, safety Ormondell Dingle, linebacker Justin Whiteside, cornerback Kamal Hadden, tight end Javon Gantt, offensive tackle Joshua Crawford, walk-on kicker and punter Aidan Jennings, JUCO cornerback Dishon McNary and JUCO quarterback David Moore.

"With his background and pedigree with quarterbacks, I feel like this is a great opportunity," Moore said of McElwain. "I probably would've went somewhere else. Coach Mac is a big deal, for sure."

As a graduate transfer, NJCAA transfer and class of 2019 signee, all three quarterbacks – Dormandy, Moore and Richardson – are all eligible to play for the Chippewas this upcoming season. 

Dormandy has played in 14 college football games, completing 102-of-181 passes for 1,290 yards, seven touchdowns and six interceptions. He started five games for Tennessee in 2017 before a season-ending injury, which prompted a transfer to Houston prior to the 2018 campaign.

Richardson, an early enrollee who will started classes at CMU on Jan. 7, compiled the Miami-Dade County career passing record for yards (9,791) and touchdowns (116) through his time at Miami Carol City High School in Florida.

"He's a competitor, he's a proven winner, incredible leader – all the things you want at that position. He can throw the ball like nobody's business," McElwain said of Richardson.

Moore will be a redshirt junior in 2019. He threw for 837 yards, four touchdowns and four interceptions at Garden City Community College in 2018. He spent the 2016 and 2017 seasons as a quarterback at the University of Memphis, a Division I program.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound signal caller said he hopes to get back to throwing the deep ball, as he did at Milton High School and Memphis.

In order to provide on-field success, McElwain stated he needs to see much improvement from the overall quarterback play at CMU.

"But I know we've got to get production at that spot, we've got to get leadership at that spot for us to move forward as a program," McElwain said.