Redshirt freshman Daniel Richardson tabbed as No. 1 QB; Jim McElwain continues to explore transfer portal

Central Michigan quarterback Daniel Richardson goes through drills at practice Sept. 3, 2020, at the East Grass Field.

Jim McElwain is running out of options at the quarterback position.

Senior David Moore is suspended until October, sophomore John Keller has to sit out due to NCAA transfer rules, redshirt sophomore George Pearson is still making his way back from a season-long leg injury and true freshman Tyler Pape hasn't even lived on-campus.

"I've got no more eligibility," said second-year coach Jim McElwain, "so you don't have to worry about it being me."

Take McElwain, a former quarterback at Eastern Washington in the 1980s, out of the picture and one remains.

Redshirt freshman Daniel Richardson is the only quarterback on the roster that McElwain will consider playing when the season opens Sept. 5 against San Jose State, making him No. 1 on the depth chart.

After bringing in two transfers – Moore and graduate transfer Quinten Dormady – before last season, McElwain plans to keep his eyes on the transfer portal for a quarterback after his initial plan, bringing in Texas Tech transfer Jett Duffey, failed. Duffey's application to CMU was denied. after the university learned of many sexual assault complaints.

"Like every team in the country, we're looking to make our team better," McElwain said. "We're keeping our eye not only on that position but every position on the team."

BYU graduate transfer Joe Critchlow, who has two years of eligibility remaining, is interested in the Chippewas

Throughout the 10 spring practices CMU was able to have before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down athletics, McElwain said Richardson did "some good things" and learned plenty. Pearson has finally been able to workout after being in a leg brace last season.

McElwain hoped Moore's suspension would be overturned by the NCAA, but his appeal was shot down in mid-March. He's eligible to return Oct. 10 on the road against Northern Illinois but won't be immediately reshuffled into the starting lineup. 

"That's a tough deal, yet we totally support him any way we can," McElwain said. "He's still working and doing what he needs to do. When that time comes, we'll get it handled. You can't predict the future.

"In the meantime, you play the hand you're dealt and do the best you can with it."

More than which player is starting at quarterback, McElwain alluded to the growth of others around that position as imperative to CMU's success. The team returns its top two wide receivers, Kalil Pimpleton and JaCorey Sullivan, one member of its two-mean backfield, Kobe Lewis, and tight end Tony Poljan. The offensive line has been forced to replace center Steve Eipper, guard Oge Udeogu and tackle Clay Walderzak.

Richardson appeared in three games last season, including a 1 for 3 passing performance for 1 yard in the New Mexico Bowl. He's yet to appear in a critical moment.

To provide relief to Richardson in what's expected to be a season full of growing pains, McElwain said he has a few tricks up his sleeve.

"We'll have some packages for some guys back there that we've used in the past if we need a changeup, fastball or curveball. We've got some ways to handle it moving forward with guys on our team."