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Position preview: Quarterback competition heating up heading into spring ball


Central Michigan quarterback Daniel Richardson motions a receiver against Northern Illinois Nov. 2 at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.

Kevin Barbay is more than familiar with what is going on at what some call the most important position on the field. 

Taking on a new role as Central Michigan’s quarterbacks coach, and offensive coordinator, Barbay has the reins to the signal callers. After last season, where the Chippewas went 3-3, Barbay is in charge of finding the right signal caller to help the Chippewas achieve their high goals. 

There are plenty of options at the position – including redshirt freshman Daniel Richardson, who started four games last year before suffering a knee injury. Two newcomers are joining the fold, making for an interesting competition that will likely extend into the fall. 

Jase Bauer, the Chippewas’ 2021 signee, will join the team in the fall.

“Obviously at the quarterback position, and at really any position, you’re stressing and preaching about competition every single day,” Barbay said. “And those guys have got to come out and compete every single day.”

Here are the four listed quarterbacks on CMU’s spring football roster.

Daniel Richardson

Measurables: 5-10, 205

Year: Redshirt freshman (Third season with team)

Career Stats: 64-102, 714 yards, four touchdowns, two interceptions

The buzz: Richardson is the most familiar of any option in terms of scheme and experience. He was recruited by McElwain and has a good relationship with the head coach from their time in Florida. He has a strong arm and showed the ability to extend plays when needed to. 

The big knock on Richardson is his height. He can make most of the throws, a testament to his arm strength. He was limited by a shoulder injury in his last two starts, both of which he struggled to throw the ball downfield. The good news with Richardson is that there is likely more potential to unlock than what’s been shown. 

Barbay: “I think Daniel Richardson, where he stands, he really knows the offense so that helps a lot.”

Jacob Sirmon

Measurables: 6-5, 240

Year: Sophomore (First season with team, transferred from Washington)

Career stats: 3-4, 28 yards

The buzz: A highly-coveted commodity coming out of high school, Sirmon sat behind NFL quarterback Jacob Eason for two seasons at Washington and was quarantined for a portion of fall camp in his third year, causing him to lose out on the job last season. 

He comes to CMU with a chance to unlock the potential he showed at Bothell High School. He has all the physical traits that are coveted in a quarterback, but his on-field consistency remains to be seen after not getting a chance to show it at Washington. 

Barbay: “Sirmon, he’s obviously a veteran, he’s played college football. He’s been around a program and knows what it takes. He’s all in and diving into the offense.”

John Keller

Measurables: 6-1, 203

Year: Sophomore (Second with team, transferred from Cincinnati)

Career stats: N/A (Did not play last season due to NCAA transfer requirements)

The buzz: Keller is a bit of a wild card. The Ohio native had a good abbreviated spring in 2020, but has no game experience at this level. With a full year under his belt, he’s farther ahead than Sirmon and freshman Tyler Pape in terms of knowing the offense. 

The fact that Keller is a walk-on means he’s probably behind the other three options, but talent plays. If Keller can assert himself, he has a fighter’s chance at the starting job. 

Barbay: “The old guys that are here, in Daniel Richardson and John Keller are able to help those (young) guys come along.” 

Tyler Pape

Measurables: 6-4, 210

Year: Freshman (First season with team, Parma Western HS)

Career stats: N/A

The buzz: The three-star freshman has impressed the coaching staff with his leadership early in his tenure. From the weight room to throwing sessions with receivers, Pape has been able to show off his leadership and on-field abilities. 

He’s not ready to start right away, but there’s definite promise for his future. Pape worked in high school with Quarterback University and former Michigan State quarterback Ryan Van Dyke, so he has an impressive pedigree. The future will be interesting to see with Pape. 

Barbay: “Tyler Pape is doing a great job right now of learning and asking a bunch of questions and trying to pick up as much information as he can.”