Michigan Wolverines senior Chase Winovich has every reason to be all smiles. For one, the Wolverines have not lost a game since opening night against Notre Dame. They are looking to continue their winning streak this weekend against Michigan State. But more importantly, Winovich was honored as a First-Team All-American on AP’s Midseason team. It signifies a season where Winovich has been the catalyst for a dominant defense, ranked second in the nation in opponent’s yards.
“Chase has been an animal this season,” Jim Harbaugh said. “… He plays every play all-out. Bo [Schembechler] used to have a saying: ‘Every man on every play.’ Chase is living that.”
Winovich Starts As Tight-End, Settles Into Defensive Line
Sacrilegious as it appears, Chase Winovich grew up an Ohio State Buckeyes fan. Playing for Thomas Jefferson High School in Pennsylvania, he was a promising linebacker, reflected in his four-star rating from scouts. Despite receiving offers from Ohio State and other perennial power schools, Winovich chose the Michigan Wolverines. He was eager to take a school back to the promise land of an illustrious championship history.
“I was very close to committing to Ohio State on the spot,” Winovich said. “Fortunately, I didn’t.”
Then Michigan Wolverines coach Brady Hoke moved Winovich from linebacker to tight end. But when Jim Harbaugh took control of the team, the young star moved back to the defense. He has now settled into the defensive line. For Winovich, his goal of making an immediate impact on the team was crystal clear from the start. Beneath the charming smile and long blonde hair is a fierce competitor, who is a physical threat in the trenches of any game he plays.
“My goal is to be the best player and contributor I can be for Michigan,” Winovich said. “And however I have to do it, I’ll do it. If I have to do it carrying water out or running down a kickoff and crushing someone or playing outside linebacker — however I can contribute, that’s what I’ll do.”
Winovich Shines As Michigan’s Best Defensive Player
The last two years have showcased Winovich’s best performances. Last season, the young defensive lineman was number one in the Big Ten with 18½ tackles for loss and number 3 with eight sacks. This season, Winovich has 39 tackles, including a team-high 10.5 for a loss, three sacks, and four quarterback hurries through seven games. In three games this season, he has at least three tackles for a loss. This has caught the attention of the entire nation who have to face Winovich on offense and the Michigan coaching staff.
“Against Northwestern, there was one time where he had three guys paying him attention. That’s ultimate respect for a defensive end or pass rusher and he’s earned it. He’s all over the field,” said Harbaugh.
In addition to his stellar play on the field, Winovich has displayed his altruistic temperament off the field. Last December, Winovich raised over $211,000 to benefit ChadTough Foundation. It is an organization that raises funds for research about Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, an inoperable tumor in the brain stem. The Foundation was the brainchild of Tammi Carr, whose son, Chad Carr, lost the battle to the disease. Tammi’s father-in-law is Lloyd Carr, who is a former Michigan Wolverines coach.
“What Chase is doing, it’s inspiring,” former Michigan tight end Shawn Thompson said. “I think back to when I was an 18, 19 or 20-year-old kid, and I never would have been able to take on what he has done. For us to see these kids like Chase doing this, and what he and his teammates did in December, it gives you so much hope.”
Winovich Has Bigger Goals for Michigan
Winovich’s selection to the AP Midseason All-American team is no surprise. His numbers are off the charts and he is on pace to break a single-season Michigan record for most tackles. But the star defensive lineman has grander aspirations for his Michigan squad. Under Jim Harbaugh, the Wolverines have not made it to the College Football Playoff. And they have had trouble against perennial Big Ten programs such as Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State.
While they do have an impressive victory over the Wisconsin Badgers last week, Michigan’s season will be on the line in these next few weeks. They face Michigan State this week, a school that has beaten the Wolverines eight of the last ten times. Next week, they take on the Penn State Nittany Lions, trying to make a statement in their quest for a Big Ten Championship. Finally, there is Ohio State, who is considered the favourite to win the Big Ten Championship and make the College Football Playoff.
Although these schools present a challenge, it also creates a massive opportunity for Michigan. It gives this school a chance to prove what they are made of. For Chase Winovich, who is playing in his last season with the team, it is a chance to reach his goal of making the College Football Playoff. It won’t be easy but with the senior at the helm of this stout defense, expect opposing offenses to have tremendous difficulty.
“Chase is not going to get beat and everything he does is a competition,” Michigan defensive line coach Greg Mattison said. “If every player had that kind of drive, it would be scary. But that’s his deal. He’s going to win any chance he can.