Chase Winovich is a 5th year senior defensive end for the Michigan Wolverines who host Big Ten rival Wisconsin at the Big House on Saturday at 7:30 EST on ABC. He rose from utter obscurity only three years ago into a player who is flying up Draft boards, possibly into the 1st round of the 2019 NFL draft. He is a player who is hard to miss when you watch a Michigan football game, a complete player who accomplished everything through perseverance, determination and a little inspiration from a UFC fighter.
The abridged Chase Winovich story...
Chase Winovich grew up in a blue collar family in Clairton, Pennsylvania. He committed to Michigan on June 1, 2013, as a 225 lbs OLB. He was a 247Sports Composite 4 star player and ranked #299 nationally (#24 OLB and the #8 recruit from Pennsylvania). He had 18 scholarship offers including Penn State, Stanford, Ohio State and Michigan State, but he chose the Maize and Blue.
He (like many high school stars) quickly went from desperately wanted player to a forgotten member of the scout team. He switched from OLB to TE, but he was still buried on the depth chart with no hope in sight of seeing the field. He then learned the story of Conor McGregor who went from unknown Dublin Plumber to UFC international star. Chase took solace in the fact they both came from modest blue collar roots and he then decided to reinvent himself much like Conor did.
He doubled his efforts in his workouts. He would sneak into the weight room after midnight to gain more muscle. He also took ballet classes to help with his quickness, balance and the ability to play in space. As a result, Chase gained 20 lbs of muscle and switched from TE to the D-line.
That was a little more than two years ago. Now he is a team leader and one of the best players on his team and in the nation. He continues his development by watching hours of film and trying to scout his next opponent and himself. He is trying to fine tune his pass rush moves and his hand placements to become a more complete player.
After 6 games this year, he is tied with ILB Devin Bush for the team lead with 22 solo tackles, which is amazing for a DE. He can play standing up or with his hand in the dirt. His playing style is infectious. He also has an extremely vivacious personality that teammates revere. He looks like Clay Matthews’ younger brother. It helps that he can play the same position as Matthews. and he too is relentless hunting QBs.
Winovich is a well schooled all-around quality player who doesn’t take a play off, has a non-stop motor and he secures his edge with pride.
Here are some examples of his hustle... He is #15
Winovich is slanting right along with the entire D-line, CB Josh Metellus is supposed to guard the edge, but he gets blocked. Air Fprce runs a wish bone counter reverse (something out of the seventies) leaving Winovich well behind the play and going in the wrong direction. Many players would have just stopped and waited for someone else to make the tackle. Instead, Winovich reverses course and uses his speed to get back into the play. He doesn’t follow the runner but instead wisely takes a direct route to where he thinks the runner will go after avoiding other defenders. He tackles a swift runner by wrapping him up and rolling over. He could have tried to drag him down, but in that situation a wrap and roll is the most secure tackle.
Here again is another total hustle play.
It is 3rd down and 22, Winovich is doing his job securing the edge from a QB scramble and collapsing the pocket. Indiana has a RB (Mike Majette) split out wide and is thrown a wide receiver screen (using a RB) with two blockers in front of him. The play is set up well and Majette avoids would be tacklers on his way to an improbable 1st down.
The ball is originally caught 2 yards past the line of scrimmage while Winovich is 7 yards into the offensive backfield and again headed the wrong way. Once more he quickly turns and races straight upfield, he secures the tackle 2 yards short of a 1st down. Most players would have watched the play from the backfield, not taken the swiftest route. or had the speed to make the play.
Once more...and this is truly amazing...
Winovich is rushing from the blind side of the QB on the right side of the defense. The running play is through the A gap on the left side of the Michigan defense. Winovich sees the play and reacts instantly but is still 3 yards behind the RB when he gets through the line. Winovich is 6’3 253 lb, and Michigan State RB (Madre London) is 6’1 218 lbs. Winovich still chases him down and makes a secure tackle. Great hustle, great speed and a never say die attitude are always in style for any defensive player.
Winovich can also do other things than chase people down.
You can see here that Winovich is rushing from the left side of the defense but never gives up his contain. It is a WR reverse coming at Winovich, and he wisely backs up and get himself in great tackling position. Notice that he never turns his back to the play. His eyes never leave the ball carrier; this is why he can correctly align himself and be in perfect position to make a play. See how he squares himself up to the runner making him commit to a direction he will go then Winovich makes the tackle for a 3 yard loss.
Here he is playing against a read option.
This is beautiful.
At first glance it doesn’t look like much, but field view tells a different story. First, Winovich is playing on the left side of the defense, and he is being read on the play by the QB. He is not blocked because he has to either commit to the RB or the QB. In this case he does neither as he slides right to take away the RB option. When the pulling TE tries to block him, he sloughs him off (keeping him away from his body) and makes the TFL on the QB. Two things to watch on this play 1) Winovich stays square to both the RB and the QB the entire play and 2) he keeps a strong wide base in his set up and when he moves he never crosses his feet. That is very technically sound play with great quickness and agility form a DE Plus he slams the QB down (he is a runner on the play) to send a message not to try that again.
This play is from the Northwestern game this year.
You can see the improved quickness as he beats the tackle with ease, gets into the backfield and makes a quick and sure tackle for a 5 yard loss. He shows beautiful technique on the tackle. His head is up. His eyes are focused on the target. He wraps up (doesn’t throw a shoulder or go for a monster hit ) and uses his weight (by dropping to the ground) to pull the runner down. You will see other players who are not technically sound miss this tackle. Winovich left no doubt that the play was over right there.
Same game different side of the defense...
This is a bang-bang play. Winovich makes it through the line and he basically runs into the RB before he is ready. Still he makes the tackle. I don’t know what blocking scheme was used on that play or wheter #73 or #59 was supposed to block Winovich, but it didn’t work. Again the quickness was evident.
Winovich was on my watch list for players who could make a leap this season and become relevant as a serious Draft prospect, and he has made a huge jump in the early part of the season. Rashan Gary was suppose to be the man this year for Michigan but he has had shoulder issues. I hate shoulder issues for D-linemen as far as Draft prospects go.
Devin Bush is a good ILB on Michigan, but he is a little smaller than I like (5’ 11 225 lbs). He does make plays; the question is whether he be able to in the NFL.
Winovich is on a tear of late, he has 29 TFL and 12 sacks in his last 19 games and he faces a nice test from Wisconsin. If he plays the RDE position, he will go against LT Jon Dietz who is a mountain of a man at 6’ 6” and 334 lbs but might need help because of the quickness of Winovich.
Through 6 games, even with the injuries that have taken a toll on the Wolverines: Michigan has allowed the least amount of yards in the country. Coach Jim Harbaugh has stated that Winovich has been his best player. He said, “Chase has been an animal this season”.
I am sure that Winovich will try to be stout against the run as Wisconsin has Jonathan Taylor who is on pace for 2,000 yards this year in a 12 game season. Wisconsin only attempts 19 passes a game on average and completes only 12.3 per game.
It is also interesting that this is the first of a three game onslaught as Michigan plays Wisconsin, Michigan State (their rivals), and Penn State in secession. You know one eye is on that Michigan Stategame. A lot of players are recruited by both schools and many play with and against each other in high school which makes it extra special.
Along with the other players I mentioned, here are players on Wisconsin you might like to take a gander at.
Michael Deiter 6’ 6” 328 lbs a 2017 2nd team All-American (Sporting News) 1st team All- Big Ten. He has played 41 career games. starting every single one. He has played 16 at center, 14 at left tackle, 11 at left guard. He will at least be a valuable swing O-Line player with his ability to play multiple positions. He is on the Outland Trophy watch list.
David Edwards 6’ 7” 315 lbs a 2017 1st team All-American (AFCA), 2017 2nd team All-American (FWAA and Walter Camp) and 2017 3rd team All-American (AP) and Academic All-Big Ten. He is on the Outland Trophy watch list. He was a HS QB who began his career as a TE and has played in 26 career games and started 19 at right tackle.
Beau Benzschawel 6’ 6” 315 lbs A 2017 1st team All-American (Sports Illustrated) 3rd team (AP) 1st Team All-Big Ten (Consensus). He has started 36 straight games with the last 30 coming at right guard.
Jonathan Taylor 5’ 11” 221 lbs (RB) He has so many awards they are too numerous to count. Taylor averages 6.7 yards a carry, but most players for Wisconsin average those numbers. If you take away the 12 sacks of the QB for -32 yards (which count as rushing stats in college ball) all of the RBs combined are averaging 6.6 yards a carry.
This should be a good game, and if you have the time (or a DVR) it is worth watching. (I just jinxed it) Tell me what you think of those players if you get a chance, and I will try and keep the profiles coming.
By the way, Winovich was able to Meet Conor McGregor outside a bar one night. He slid into the limo that Conor was using, paparazzi all around, (this was set up by Conor’s agent). Conor got in with cameras flashing in the background, and they were able to talk for a while. It is nice because sometimes you never get to meet your inspiration.