The recruitment of Clairton, PA LB, Chase Winovich picked up major steam in over the last few weeks. The rising prospect that was sitting on just over a dozen offers a month ago now has double that. An ardent Ohio State fan growing up, Winovich admitted that the offer recently extended by the Buckeyes was particularly impactful. With the Scarlet & Gray suddenly surging up his list and Pittsburgh (the first school to offer) entrenched atop the leaderboard as well, Michigan needed to make an extremely strong impression during his visit to Ann Arbor last weekend in order to keep pace. By the time he left the Great Lake State it was clear the Wolverines had done just that.
“It was an awesome time,” Winovich said. “They really showed me around and showed me all the love. Coach Manning and Coach Mattison were awesome. They’re great coaches and they really took me under their wing (Saturday).”
“I really hit it off with Coach Manning. I like his coaching style a lot. He would be my position coach, so that’s obviously important. It was just a great time meeting everybody. The coaches are all down to earth, but at the same time they’re striving to improve. You could see it in what they do. It’s easy to preach it, but it seems like they’re trying to implement that into everything they do.”
Brady Hoke is responsible for setting that tone, a fact that Winovich was able to appreciate fully when he finally met Michigan’s headman face to face. It was but one of the many visit attributes that helped him gain a better feel for how he might fit in if he opts to become a Wolverine.
“Coach Hoke wasn’t there (last time),” Winovich said noting the difference between visits. “The environment was a lot different. All the players were there this time, I got to sit in with the coaches and really discuss everything about me and my future there, and they seemed more excited about me this time around. Kurt Mattes the film guy there he put together a (video) at the request of Coach Mattison. It’s this film of me one play and then Jake Ryan the next play, and then it goes back and forth every other play. It showed how comparable we are. (Ryan) would do one play and then it’d be the exact same play or scenario (with me) on the other side. It was really cool seeing the comparison.”
Winovich is currently in the process of making his own comparisons, and he is relying heavily on his family to help with the deliberation. That explains why his travel party Saturday was so deep.
“We dominated the arena,” the talented youngster said laughingly. “My brother was there. He is very important in my recruiting process. (So were) my sisters and my dad, who’s a vocal factor… and my mother who is also a vocal factor.”
The entire crew was able to gain valuable insight on the Maize & Blue while in town thanks to a tie one of them has to the program.
“My sister’s boyfriend knows (former Michigan lineman) Mark Bihl,” Winovich explained. “He was good friends with (Bihl) back in college so that’s connection. I met (Bihl’s former teammates) Marlin Jackson and David Harris (while chatting with Bihl). They took time out of their day to talk about their love for Michigan, (but) they didn’t pressure me into making a decision. They said, ‘if you go somewhere else we understand. We respect it.’"
The crop of Michigan commitments didn’t pressure Winovich either, but they certainly weren’t shy in making suggestions. Recruiting pitch aside, the Keystone State star found their input extremely helpful.
“I spent a lot of time hanging out with Michael Ferns talking about his commitment and talking to some of the other commitments talking about what made them commit to Michigan,” he said. “’What do you love about it so much?’ They all spoke so highly of it… the coaching and the other players. They spoke highly about the people at Michigan the entire organization.”
All told, Winovich’s already favorable view of the Wolverines was helped greatly.
“Michigan is definitely in my top three,” he said. “The only reason they really weren’t before was because they (hadn’t) offered. It would have been them above Ohio State, but obviously they hadn’t offered me at that point. It hurt that they didn’t offer before Ohio State got involved, but I’m just happy they’re in now and they’re definitely in my top three. I’m excited about them.”
Such words might be considered sacrilegious to some fans in college football’s fiercest rivalry, but Winovich is making a conscious effort to put his boyhood allegiance to the side.
“I’m trying not to look at it from a fan perspective, but more as a 40-year decision… more as a business plan,” he stated. “I know that this decision will affect the rest of my life, so I’m trying to build relationships. It’s not going to be an easy decision, but I’m just trying to give myself the best opportunity to know what really feels right. Regardless of the rivalry it’s going to be about where I fit in the most and where I have the best opportunity.”
The timeframe for figuring that out is not that far off, and he has already begun paring down his list in hopes of streamlining his process.
“I’ve told some schools that I really wasn’t interested in them because I really don’t want to drag them along,” said Winovich. “They have a right to know that. I’ve already planned to come back up (to Michigan) for a visit. I’m going to take my visits one step at a time and I’m still going to evaluate some schools. “
“I’ll definitely be committee to a school by (the fall). (Will) I go on official visits? I doubt it. I’m sure I’ll go to that school I commit to. I’m going to try to get my commitment over with before July, so that’s my timeframe.”