New Central Michigan coach McElwain whips up solid recruit class in short order

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Jim McElwain had to feel good about Central Michigan’s recruiting class after being named head football coach of the Chippewas on Dec. 2.

McElwain has experienced a great deal of success as a head coach, being named Mountain West Coach of the Year after helping guide Colorado State to a 10-3 record in 2014 and then earning SEC Coach of the Year the following season at Florida where he became the first coach in league history to take his team to the conference championship game in his first two seasons (2015, ’16).

McElwain took over for John Bonamego, who was fired after Central finished 1-11 while failing to win a MAC game for the first time in program history.

Obviously, Central had multiple problems. One was at quarterback and McElwain hopes to solve that problem by bringing in Quinten Dormady, who redshirted last year at Houston after transferring from Tennessee where he threw for 221 yards and two touchdown in a 42-41 win over Georgia Tech back in 2017.

Cass Tech’s Ormondell Dingle, from left, Kyron McKinnie-Harper and Devin Nicholson sign their letters of intent to attend Central Michigan.

“Q is a guy who obviously I’m familiar with since for a long time we’ve played against him,” McElwain said. . “He’s a heck of a player. I think he brings some experience and knowledge and I think he’ll be a good thing for everybody in the program and he was excited to come and be a part of it.

“It’s like I’ve told all the players on our football team and all the ones coming in, everybody will be learning at the same time and it’s an opportunity to have a clean slate and really tell us who you are and that’s what’s really going to be fun about it.”

McElwain made sure he made a splash in the state, getting nearly half — eight of 17 — of the recruits from Michigan, including three from Cass Tech in running back Lew Nichols (No. 24 in The News Blue Chip list), cornerback Kyron McKinnie-Harper (No. 47) and safety Ormondell Dingle. He also grabbed five recruits from Florida, his old stomping ground.

McKinnie-Harper took an official visit to Central last Friday.

“It was great, got the chance to talk with Coach Mac (McElwain), sit down and talk with him about the plan I had,” McKinnie-Harper said. “Coach Mac is a great guy, a guy who will keep it 100 (percent) with you, won’t sugarcoat nothing and that’s what really brought me to him. He’ll get me to where I want to go. I also feel like I have the opportunity to come right in and play since two corners left.”

Nichols plans to enroll early.

“I felt like it was a great fit, even though there was a coaching change I still felt like the new coaches wanted me so I just have to come in and compete, work hard and everything will fall into place,” Nichols said.

“I talked to Coach McElwain a couple of times on the phone. I’ve met him on my official and he came down here about a week ago. He’s a cool guy, just wants me to come in and work hard and that’s what I want to do. He said everything is open, everybody is at the same level. I’m enrolling early. I’ll be up there in a couple of weeks.”

And, what could make Central’s class go from solid to strong is the fact a trio of talented transfers in four-star tackle JaRaymond Hall (Michigan), four-star defensive lineman Deron Irving-Bey (Michigan) and receiver Kalil Pimpleton (Virginia Tech) will be eligible to play next season after sitting out this past year in Mount Pleasant.

“They have been instrumental in the excitement of the direction that we’re headed,” said McElwain of Hall, Irving-Bey and Pimpleton.