The Wolverine

March 2014

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Heading into the 2013 season, Clairton (Pa.) Thomas Jefferson head coach Bill Cherpak and his staff knew what kind of special athlete they had in outside linebacker Chase Winovich. The rest of the Big Nine in Western Pennsylvania knew, too. The problem was, everyone else had not yet taken notice. Winovich, an athletic 6-4 prospect who had played everything from de- fensive end to running back in middle school, was slotted as a safety when he arrived at Thomas Jefferson. "He was a safety for us, and he was a huge safety," Cherpak said. "His role as a safety, he was making plays where he shouldn't have been. He was up at the line of scrimmage, in the back- field. At the same time, he was still 205 pounds, so we really didn't think much about him as a linebacker until we had a need there. We moved him up, and that is when everything really took off, his junior year. "For him to move to backer, it al- lowed him to be closer to the action and be aggressive to continue to do the things he did. He didn't have to worry about coverages. We really tailored the defense to allow him to run and play to the ball, and that really was the biggest difference to allow him to play." The Jaguars still planned for Win- ovich to play at safety the summer be- fore the 2012 season, but injuries in the front seven opened up a role for him at linebacker. Playing at 205 pounds in the box, Winovich racked up 69 tackles and nine sacks. Last year, Winovich was nearly un- stoppable, finishing with 89 tackles, 14 sacks, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. But his impact wasn't limited to the defense. He led the team in rushing with 115 carries for 981 yards (8.5 yards per rush) and 16 touchdowns as a running back and wildcat quarterback, and he blocked five punts. "As a coach, you don't have the lux- ury of recruiting or anything like that," Cherpak said. "You have to tailor what VERSATILE CHASE WINOVICH IS EXCITED TO JOIN THE WOLVERINES During his senior season, Winovich recorded 89 tackles, 14 sacks, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries; led the team in rush- ing with 981 yards and 16 touchdowns; and blocked five punts. PHOTO BY TIM SULLIVAN

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