Though he's been to Pitt four times, he says, he wanted to take a visit this week to spend some more time with the coaching staff. If he found anything out this week, he's found that he's faced with a very tough decision.
"This was my fourth visit down to Pitt," Winovich said. "I think things went really well. I got to sit down with the coaches. I got to know the defensive schemes, their vision of what Pitt football is for the future. It's positive. It's going to be a really tough decision between Pitt and Michigan, and Ohio State. It's going to come down to where I feel most comfortable. It's going to be tough."
Joe Rudolph is his chief recruiter. Rudolph is a graduate of Belle Vernon, right down Route 51 from Thomas Jefferson. Winovich says the way Rudolph has recruited him at Pitt has helped make this a tough decision.
"Usually when I talk on the phone, I'll talk with Coach Rudolph," Winovich said. "He's great. He's a great communicator and a great recruiter. Also, Coach (Chris) Haering, they're always together when they come to the school to see me, see me lift. It's mostly them, but I've talked to Coach Chryst several times on the phone and in his office. He's trying to get me see their vision of Pitt and the direction they're heading."
Winovich also talked about head coach Paul Chryst, and how he feels he can relate to him. Through the whole recruiting process, he feels he's connected with Chryst and Michigan head coach Brady Hoke the best. Making it tougher, the fact that Hoke and Chryst are identical personalities, according to him.
"He's so down to earth," Winovich said of Chryst. "He's definitely one of the most down-to-earth, blue-collar, hardest working coaches. You get the feel of that, of any coach in the NCAA or of any coach that I've come in contact with. That's a great sign. I like to see some of those characteristics in myself. It's going to be interesting to find a coach that separates himself.
"Coach Hoke carries a lot of those characteristics, and coaching style. Coach Hoke and Coach Chryst, their coaching style is a little bit different from other coaches."
Winovich also knew that regardless of how well the Pitt visit would go, he knew he wouldn't make a decision after the visit. A decision might not be too far off, though.
"I really just wanted to take the Pitt visit and digest it for a couple days, let it sink in," Winovich said. "Everything always seems great after the visit. As you sit down and talk with your family about it, you get a better look back on it. A lot of the recruits from Ohio State have been asking me to go up. I don't know if I'm going to take the visit this weekend, but with the whole recruiting process, anything is possible. I'm not crossing them off."
As for when the decision will come?
"I'm going to take it one step at a time, maybe making a decision before next month," Winovich said. "It can come whenever. I'm trying to get the ball rolling on this so I can focus on football, and making myself better at taking it to the next level."
As for his senior season at Thomas Jefferson, expectations are high. The Jaguars went 11-1 last season, advancing all the way to the WPIAL semifinals. That may be considered a high mark for a lot of programs, but there's a sense of urgency from Winovich and the rest of his senior class to bring home another state championship. Thomas Jefferson last won a state title in 2008, still fairly recently.
While his future is on defense, his offensive responsibilities will change this year. He will be taking over at quarterback. Interestingly, former Jaguar Dom DeCicco, who went on to play safety and a hybrid linebacker at Pitt, also played quarterback in high school.
"I think we're going to have a great season," Winovich said. "I'm making the switch to quarterback on offense. It's going to be interesting. We have a lot of seniors, and we have a lot of talent. It's my job as a senior and as a leader to help guide them in the right direction. Together, we need to bring back the state title to Thomas Jefferson.
"I played quarterback in middle school, then as I went up, I started defense through my whole high school career. They kept me on that side of the ball. This year, they're going to find a place for me on offense. I'll stay on defense full-time, too. That'll be my priority."