Coronavirus concerns delay grad transfer QB Joe Critchlow's visits, in-person interaction with CMU

BYU graduate transfer quarterback Joe Critchlow is interested in Central Michigan and was planning to visit before coronavirus concerns suspended in-person recruiting. (Photo: BYU Athletics)

Joe Critchlow was working to schedule a visit to Central Michigan when the increased nationwide outbreak of the coronavirus began.

Due to rulings from the Mid-American Conference and NCAA, the BYU graduate transfer quarterback will be forced to wait if he wants to check out the Chippewas.

The MAC announced Thursday its decision to suspend all in-person recruiting and campus visits until further notice. The NCAA set a clear timeline Friday, as it instituted a dead period through April 15, meaning official and unofficial campus visits, home visits and live evaluations are no longer allowed. Phone calls, text messages, emails and the sharing of documents remain permitted.

"He was planning to visit CMU, but all his visits have been canceled," said David Critchlow, Joe's father and former teammate of CMU defensive coordinator Robb Akey at Weber State in the 1980s. "He really likes the opportunity at CMU. We hope after this virus stuff, it will get back on the books."

Before the new recruiting rules went into place as a result of COVID-19, Critchlow visited Tennessee on March 11. He had scheduled visits to Baylor on March 17 and Memphis the following week. 

Critchlow's interest in CMU sparked in February. He was arranging to visit Mount Pleasant in late March or early April. He still wants to make the trip but said, "details on when that could be are up in the air."

The coronavirus has added a new level of uncertainty to an already confusing process that Critchlow faces.

"I have not made a final decision on where I want to continue my education and football career, and I was hoping visiting schools and watching spring practices would help greatly with that choice," Critchlow said. "I am hoping that coaches around the country will adapt to the unique circumstances, just as I plan to do. I’m remaining confident that despite the new obstacles, I will be able to make the best decision for my family and my future."

Critchlow, 23, played for BYU from 2017-19. During his true freshman season, he completed 55 of 101 passes for 642 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions in six games (three starts). He took a redshirt in 2018 and only played two games in 2019.

At 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Critchlow has two years of eligibility remaining and can play immediately as a grad transfer. If senior David Moore's suspension is upheld by the NCAA, the addition of an experienced quarterback with immediate eligibility would provide relief to the position group.

The NCAA's hearing for Moore's suspension appeal is scheduled for March 18.

Critchlow could be the answer for second-year coach Jim McElwain.

Redshirt sophomore George Pearson, redshirt freshman Daniel Richardson and true freshman Tyler Pape are the only quarterbacks that are guaranteed to be able to play at the beginning of the season. Moore's suspension, unless overturned, lasts until Oct. 7. Redshirt sophomore John Keller must wait a year to see the field due to NCAA transfer rules.

McElwain said the starting job is between Moore and Richardson.

"Both have been running off and on with the ones, twos and threes and done a good job really pushing the tempo," McElwain said. "I’ve been really excited about those guys and what they’re doing."

McElwain's original option for a grad transfer quarterback was Texas Tech's Jett Duffey. However, he was denied admission to Central Michigan after a previously unknown 2019 Title IX investigation was released to the administration.