First impressions weigh heavily in most recruiting scenarios, which is why Michigan’s strong showing with Chase Winovich during his unofficial visit Sunday bodes well for their chances in his recruitment.
“The experience was really cool,” Winovich said. “Coach Funk showed me around and took several hours out of Sunday to show me around the athletic facilities and sit with me for the basketball game. He is obviously a really good guy. It made a really good first impression on me. I had the opportunity to sit down with Coach Smith, the linebacker coach, and he explained to me where I (would play) as far as position and what they’d want me to do. I like Michigan a lot. It definitely made a good first impression on me. Another thing in Michigan’s favor is my brother only lives 45 minutes away, so it’s really convenient for me with him being there. He lives in Toledo and played at Bowling Green.”
Michigan didn’t yet add its name to a scholarship list that already includes programs like Florida State West Virginia, Boston College, and Pittsburgh, but the Wolverine brass made it clear to the talented youngster that he is a priority recruit for them.
“They explained to me how I’m one of their top linebackers for the class, but it’s a really small class so they’re going through the process just as I’m going through the process,” Winovich stated. “So they said I’m definitely at the top and they said they want to get me back for a spring practice in a couple of weeks.”
When Winovich makes it back to Ann Arbor he plans to get an even better feel for the role he’d play if he were to don the winged helmet. For now, he’s excited by the picture Michigan linebacker coach Mark Smith painted for him.
“Michigan today said they saw me as a SAM linebacker,” Winovich recalled. “I’d be all over the field… sometimes blitzing, sometimes covering the tight ends, doing all sorts of stuff. “
Checking in at a self-reported 6-4, 210 lbs. and capable of running the forty in 4.5 seconds, Winovich could very easily wind up at another defensive position. He has certainly shown great versatility thus far in his high school career, and that has caused many coaches to salivate over the possibilities.
“Individually I led my team in every defensive statistic except for interceptions,” he said. “I think I had around 70 tackles. It was a pretty good year. They switched me the third game to strong side linebacker, so I really started playing there my fourth game. It was an interesting transition from starting as a sophomore at d-back, then starting as a junior at safety, and then just making the transition to linebacker where the team needed me most.”
“I think (my college position) is going to depend on the kind of defense I ultimately go into. Some of the coaches I talk to want to bring me in as an outside (linebacker), but then bulk me up… after seeing my brother and my dad… and one day have me play one of the inside positions.”
One place Winovich definitely won’t be lining up is at any of the five positions on a college basketball team. He gave his all to his high school team this year, even putting his football recruiting on the backburner somewhat so he could focus on the task at hand. That said, he doesn’t have any delusions of hardwood grandeur.
“I have a couple of basketball coaches looking at me, but definitely a lot smaller schools because I’m more of a football player on the basketball court,” Winovich admitted. “I think last season I ended up averaging 4.25 fouls per game (laughter). Hey, somebody has got to do it!”
Now that recruiting is coming back to the fore, the Keystone State star is beginning to compare and contrast his growing list of suitors. Future visits to Michigan and a host of other schools are going to go a long way toward helping him further sort things out.
“I do (have a list of favorites) but I’m keeping that confidential right now,” said Winovich. “I’m taking it one step at a time. I think I’m going to visit Northwestern coming up, then I have Penn State coming up, then I have Boston College coming up, and Florida State as well.”
“Whenever the decision (to commit) feels right is when I’ll make the decision. Until I get that feeling I’m going to keep looking. It’s got to be that way because whenever I do commit I’m going to stay committed. The big factors are going to be education, where I have the best chance to excel, and ultimately after football is done where am I going to be proud to say I have a degree from.”