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Many CMU football coaches depart, few remain under McElwain

Central Michigan offensive coordinator Chris Ostrowsky walks off the field during fall practice at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

Since the firing of John Bonamego and hiring of new Central Michigan football head coach Jim McElwain, the assistant coaching positions have underwent a major shake.

Seven assistant coaches have departed as the byproduct of not interviewing under McElwain or being removed from the staff.

Leaving the Chippewas 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.

Tight ends coach Tavita Thompson, offensive line coach Derek Frazier and defensive backs coach Cory Hall remain on CMU's staff. Director of Strength and Conditioning Jason Novak and Director of Player Personnel Albert Karschnia are also staying.

McElwain is keeping Frazier on the staff until he hires a new offensive coordinator. At that point, it will be the new coordinator's job to evaluate.

In order to help McElwain add assistant coaches, Central Michigan has agreed to support the top 10 full-time assistant coaches at a total combined salary of $1,020,000 per year.

Chris Ostrowsky

Ostrowsky sent out four quarterbacks in the 2018 campaign – redshirt sophomore Tony Poljan, junior Tommy Lazzaro and redshirt freshman Austin Hergott and true freshman George Pearson.

CMU’s quarterbacks combined to complete just 48.6 percent of passes for 1,585 yards, nine touchdowns, and 18 interceptions.

The top running back on the roster, junior Jonathan Ward, struggled to produce in 2018, registering just 76 carries for 212 yards and one touchdown. One season ago, Ward netted nearly 1,500 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns.

CMU's offensive under Ostrowsky was ranked No. 128 of 129 programs in the Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) in 2018.

Whoever replaces Ostrowsky will likely put a key focus on the quarterback play. From Dec. 7-9, Houston graduate transfer quarterback Quinten Dormady was on a visit to check out the Central Michigan program. Just a few days later, on Dec. 11, Dormady committed to play for the Chippewas.

He is eligible to take the field in 2019 and is a rare double grad transfer, from Tennessee to Houston to CMU.

Another potential transfer option is former Michigan State, current East Mississippi Community College quarterback Messiah deWeaver, who would also be immediately eligible for the Chippewas.

"Great hire," deWeaver said when CMU added McElwain. "He’s a great coach. Everywhere I’ve been and played, I’ve won. I can be the guy. I’m just a proven winner."

Greg Colby

One CMU football player told CM Life that Colby decided against interviewing under McElwain and was not directly asked to leave the program. 

While the offense was horrendous, CMU's total defense ranked No. 38 of 129 programs last season under Colby. Led by linebacker Malik Fountain and defensive end Mike Danna, the Chippewas allowed just 4.96 yards per play.

Danna was named to the 2018 Pro Football Focus All-American First Team. He led the team with 65 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 8.5 sacks, one pass defended, three fumble recovers, two forced fumbles and two defensive touchdowns.

Colby also worked to develop true freshman defensive lineman LaQuan Johnson, who Fountain believes will be a star for years to come.

"It's eye-opening how good he can be," Fountain, a senior, said. "Realistically, he can be up there with the best in the country. He's that good. He was slept on. There's nothing LaQuan Johnson can't do. Period."

Losing cornerbacks Sean Bunting and Xavier Crawford early to the 2019 NFL Draft, CMU has reached out to Fresno City College cornerback transfer Ozziah Williams. He plans to visit CMU near the timeframe of Dec. 14-16 but committed to Western Michigan on Dec. 10.

"I feel needed by the program," Williams said. "I plan on taking (the visit). I just don't know the dates yet."