'The guy you want to go to war with': Meet QB Daniel Richardson, Central Michigan's next man up
There's talk of what Daniel Richardson can do on a football field. Right now, at Central Michigan, that's all it is – talk.
As the Miami-Dade County all-time leader in high school passing yards, word has spread of Richardson's ability to throw the football. His quarterback trainer, Oliver Bozeman, believes his abilities rank with the best of the best.
"I would put Daniel on a stage with any quarterback in the country right now from a throwing standpoint," Bozeman said.
Senior quarterback David Moore's suspension appeal was denied, meaning that Moore will be out until CMU's Oct. 10 game at Northern Illinois. This decision leaves the Chippewas in need of a starting quarterback.
While coach Jim McElwain and company may search the transfer portal for their starter, Richardson has already been splitting reps on the first team with Moore and holds the inside track for the job.
There will be no more spring practices for the Chippewas, as the remainder of their spring schedule was cut off due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning that Richardson will have to wait to win the job until summer workouts and fall camp.
"It’s just a better understanding of the offense itself given the opportunity," McElwain said. "(Richardson is) a guy that makes plays. He’s fun to watch out there. Every now and then, you go, ‘What the?’ and then ‘Wow, that was a heck of a play.' I've known a lot about him for a long time."
There's talk of his abilities as a quarterback, from both a leadership and ability standpoint. There's a lot of untapped potential when it comes to the redshirt freshman.
When Central Michigan takes the field against San Jose State on Sept. 5, he may just get to show it off.
Miami-Dade County's top passer
Bozeman has seen many quarterbacks come through his training academy, "Bozeman Quarterbacks." In the past, he's worked with Teddy Bridgewater, Feliepe Franks and Michael Vick among many others. Currently, he's working with over 30 young athletes who come to him looking to improve their skills.
In the summer of 2015, Bozeman met Richardson.
Richardson was at an awards banquet having just been named Quarterback of the Year in South Florida's youth football league. Bozeman and Richardson struck up a relationship and the two began working together.
Richardson wasted no time becoming the leader of the program at Booker T. Washington High School, winning the Florida 4A state championship as a freshman. In that game, Richardson threw for 212 yards and three touchdowns. He spent three seasons at Booker T. before transferring to Carol City to play for Benedict Hyppolite, who was the offensive coordinator on his championship team.
Richardson ended his high school career with 9,791 yards and 116 passing touchdowns, setting two Miami-Dade County records. He also ran for 1,600 yards and scored 32 touchdowns on the ground. He was named South Florida Player of the Year as a sophomore.
Richardson did all this despite being listed at 5-foot-10. He is the shortest quarterback on CMU's roster.
"There’s no throw on the field that he can’t make, from any side of the field," Bozeman says. "Whether it’s the wide side of the field, the short side of the field. I don’t see any weak point with his arm talent. The only thing that I can say about 'D' from a weakness standpoint is I wish he was 6-5."
Bozeman compares Richardson to Russell Wilson, the quarterback of the Seattle Seahawks. Wilson stands just 5-foot-11 but has thrown for nearly 30,000 yards in his eight-year career. This statistic calls into question the importance of height when it comes to quarterbacks.
"If a coach looks past his height, they will get a complete quarterback who will be ready to walk into a quarterback room as a college quarterback and change the atmosphere," Bozeman said, "along with being a professional in a couple of years and walk into that locker room and change the atmosphere."
'He's that kid'
Richardson signed with the Chippewas in the spring of 2019. McElwain spearheaded the effort to get Richardson due to his connections with the area that Richardson grew up. Richardson enrolled early and participated in last season's spring practices.
Graduate transfer quarterback Quinten Dormady won the starting job and promptly led the Chippewas to a Mid-American Conference West Division title. When Dormady missed four games due to injury, it was Moore who stepped in.
In the meantime, Richardson stood next to offensive coordinator Charlie Frye, black headset draped over a gold beanie, signaling plays to the offense. Richardson saw playing time in three games a season ago, including a 1 for 4 passing performance in the New Mexico Bowl. All three of his appearances came in blowouts; he has yet to appear in the crucial moments of a game.
While many are clamoring to see what he can do on the field, many who know Richardson commend his abilities as a leader both on and off the field. A season ago, Richardson stood on the sidelines and watched. Now, he has been able to display his abilities commanding a huddle and leading his teammates.
"(He's grown) definitely with his leadership," junior guard Luke Goedeke said. "Now he kind of takes charge more in the huddle and everything. Really gets the game rolling."
In the locker room, he's known as D-Rich. His teammates will tell of his goofiness off the field but stern demeanor on it, demanding the best from his team. Junior receiver Kalil Pimpleton, the MAC's leading receiver a season ago, has experienced both sides of Richardson first hand.
"I've seen tremendous growth in D-Rich since he's gotten here," Pimpleton said. "He's in the film room every time we come in the locker room. We've seen him getting reps both in and out of practice, his ball has gotten better. (He's) a very passionate player, kinda goofy off the field but you know that he means all business when it comes down to it."
The players believe in Richardson. In just over one year on campus, he's asserted himself as a cerebral leader. Come September, it may just be this redshirt freshman who leads the offense onto the field. He'll sport a maroon helmet instead of the gold beanie that became a staple of his uniform a season ago.
"He's a charismatic guy," Frye said. "He's well-liked, he's a leader. He was by my side the whole season. He was our signaler and he was involved in our game plans. He got a unique look at the game from the sidelines, a coaching perspective of it. He was great in the (quarterback) room."
Richardson will compete with redshirt sophomore George Pearson, sophomore Tyler Shearer and freshman Tyler Pape for the starting job. Being in the good graces of his coaches and teammates, as well as gaining the valuable experience that he did last season, he seems to have a leg up on the competition.
"He’s that guy that can walk into any room and light up the room," Bozeman said. "He’s very liked among his peers. He’s a hard worker so he’s a guy that leads by example. He’s your leader, he’s the guy you want to go to war with."
With the returning talent at the skill positions, the Chippewas success hinges on having a quarterback that can get the ball in the hands of receivers Pimpleton and JaCorey Sullivan, running back Kobe Lewis and tight end Tony Poljan.
Richardson has all the necessary skills to succeed. He's already proven to be a leader off the field, drawing his teammates together through his charisma. If he can lead on the field, making plays and creating opportunities for his talented teammates, the starting job may be his for a while.
Bozeman believes its only a matter of time before Richardson takes this program by storm.
"Again, he’s a natural-born leader," Bozeman said. "He was a state champ as a freshman, he’s the Miami-Dade County passing leader and that’s all-time. So, you’re getting a kid who knows how to win. He’s pretty much put aside all the, 'Oh he’s not too tall, he’s not this and he’s not that.' I mean, he’s a winner. Period. That’s what you want leading your team from the quarterback standpoint."
With Moore out until at least October, the opportunity is Richardson's for the taking.