Winovich on Mission to Lead

Clairton (Pa.) Thomas Jefferson senior linebacker and Michigan commit Chase Winovich had some big plays in his team's opening night win Friday. Scout..com caught up with him after the game to get an update on his adjustment to playing the quarterback position along with who he plans to recruit to join him at Michigan.

The top linebacker prospect in Pennsylvania, class of 2014 Clairton (Pa.) Thomas Jefferson four-star linebacker Chase Winovich, took to the field Friday night in his team's season-opening win.

"It feels great to be back out here and playing a real game," Winovich said. "We worked hard all offseason to get to this point. It's a little bit of a transition going from playing just linebacker to now being the full time starting quarterback this year, too. It's something I just have to adjust to. It was difficult battling the heat out there."

After committing to Michigan in June to play linebacker, Winovich was informed by his high school coach, Bill Cherpak, he would be the team's starting quarterback. He didn't waste any time in putting up big plays for Thomas Jefferson, which included a first quarter 80-yard touchdown run and a third quarter 36-yard touchdown pass.

"I'll do anything for my team, and if that means playing a position I have never played before, so be it," said Winovich. "On the 80-yard touchdown run, I had some good blocks, broke a few tackles and then set up the last defender for the cut back into the end zone. It definitely took a lot out of me, but at the same time I was just thinking, ‘Score.' You could have thrown anyone out there on that play, but no one was going to tackle me."

Only playing the final seven games of his junior season at the linebacker position, Winovich focused his offseason to dedicating himself to the position full time and learning the nuances of the position.

"I made a big effort to study a lot of film," he said. "I went back and watched how I lined up, my stances, and any tendencies I could see myself giving away. I thought if I can improve on that, it will make me a better linebacker and my team better.

"I am also taking on a larger leadership role. Last season, I would lead by example most of the time, but now I find myself being more of a vocal leader. My teammates look to me in that regard, and I am fortunate to be able to be that guy, and I definitely embrace it."

Since committing to Michigan, Winovich has been able to take his focus from the recruiting process to getting to know his future teammates, recruiting a few other players and making sure his high school team is ready to have a big season.

"I keep in touch with most of the commits through our group chat," Winovich said. "It is really cool how close we are all becoming before we even step on campus. I think that is a big thing. A whole bunch of us are going to the Notre Dame game coming up, so I'll get to see everyone there. I will also be coming back for the Ohio State game. If (class of 2015 offensive tackle) Sterling Jenkins is able to make it, I will definitely be working on him, and I am also looking forward to trying my hand at getting (Virginia five-star defensive end) Da'Shawn Hand to join our family."

Analyst's take:
The first thing that jumps out while watching Winovich is his frame. He is all of 6-foot-3 plus , with long arms and room to get much bigger. The speed at which he plays the game from his linebacker position is extremely impressive. He flies to the ball every play and has a knack for making big plays. He will not be playing on offense at the next level, but you can see his footwork and speed are quite impressive with the ball in his hands. He does a nice job of getting around or through blockers. He will need to continue adding strength to be able to shed blockers at the next level. If he can do that, he has the potential to be a big time player at the next level.

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