With Daniel Richardson secure as CMU's starting quarterback, battle for backup spot rolls into fall camp
Daniel Richardson is firmly entrenched as Central Michigan's starting quarterback heading into the 2022 season.
The fourth-year signal caller earned the chance to start by leading a stunning 21-point fourth quarter to defeat Florida International in Week Four of the 2021 season, then never lost the job in a breakout season. He finished with 24 touchdown passes, the most thrown by a CMU QB since Shane Morris tossed 27 in 2017, against six interceptions.
There's mystery behind Richardson, though, as the other three quarterbacks on roster enter fall camp vying for the opportunity to be the second option. Between true freshman Bert Emanuel Jr. and redshirt freshmen Tyler Pape and Jase Bauer, the competition is heating up in fall camp.
"First thing, they all want to compete to be the starting quarterback," said offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Paul Petrino. "Because it's a physical game and they're one injury away from being the starting quarterback."
Head coach Jim McElwain is evaluating which of the three options best moves the offense when they're in the game. The key to a good backup is stepping in and leading without the rest of the unit missing a beat.
"It comes down to how the team moves," McElwain said. "When they're in the huddle, or when they're behind center. Obviously all the drills that go into it are all graded and looked at. And yet, ultimately, the bottom line is, what direction does the offense go when they're behind center? And those will be the things that we really evaluate moving in."
Meet the candidates
Though Pape played in just one game in 2021, all indications pointed to him having a solid first camp. He greyshirted in 2020, meaning he wasn't on campus for the Chippewas' shortened season. The Spring Arbor native has the most experience with the program of the three, beginning his career in the spring of 2021.
"Tyler's more of your pure, conventional drop-back quarterback," Petrino said. "Stand in the pocket. He's continued to get better understanding defenses and making his reads, but he's got a big arm and can throw it."
Bauer entered the 2021 campaign behind the proverbial '8-ball.' A stellar baseball player, the Ankeny, Iowa native rolled into campus after his high school team finished its run to the Iowa Class 4A state semifinals. Now, with a year under his belt, Bauer's athleticism is making waves.
"Jase is very athletic," Petrino said. "Does a good job on being able to move and make things happen with his feet. He's really improved on throwing the ball, he's gotten a lot more accurate. Understands the game pretty well, continued to learn and grow in that part of it."
In Emanuel, the son of former NFL wide receiver Bert Emanuel Sr., the Chippewas believe they may have gotten a steal. Hailing from Houston, Texas, the 6-foot-3 2022 recruit didn't commit to CMU until Feb. 2. This came after an exceptional senior season in which he tossed 31 touchdowns with zero interceptions.
Though he's a recent arrival, Emanuel is believed to be firmly in the backup competition.
"All indications from this summer (were) the Chippewas hit on this Bert Emanuel guy," McElwain said Wednesday. "He's a pretty special player."
"Bert's kind of young, just got here," Petrino added. "But he's got a ton of talent. He's really fast, throws the ball well."
Regardless of who wins the backup job, Richardson is determined to pass along what he learned from the likes of Quinten Dormady, David Moore and Tommy Lazzaro when he was in the shoes of the freshmen.
"They taught me a lot," Richardson said. "Being a freshman, just the leadership standpoint of everything. Treating the guys like Bert, Jase and Pape, the young guys, and having them come along. Just going through your number one, number two and number three reads and everything will fall in place."