Linebacker Chase Winovich is projected to be an outside linebacker, but his athleticism could help him to become more of a middle linebacker for the Wolverines. Is it possible he sees early playing time in 2014?
Recruit: Chase Winovich
Height/Weight: 6'4, 240 lbs.
Position: Outside Linebacker
School/Hometown: Thomas Jefferson HS/Jefferson Hills, PA
Star Rating: ★★★★
Boasting around 18 offers, Winovich seemed like a recruit who was destined to play in the Midwest. Michigan offered later than presumed finalists Pitt and Ohio State, although the offer came a few days after the Buckeyes extended theirs. In-state school Pitt seemed to be the leader for his services until Winovich -- who kept his recruitment mostly under wraps -- committed to Michigan on June 1, a few days after a visit to Pitt.
Where He Fits
Winovich is entering Michigan with a very deep linebacker group in the 2014 recruiting class. Michael Ferns (early enrollee), Noah Furbush and Jared Wangler all capable at seeing playing time at some point during their careers.
For Winovich, however, his freshman year could see a variety of possibilities of whether early playing time is a viable option.
Projected to be more of an outside guy, Michigan is found themselves with considerable depth -- talented depth at that -- and could have the luxury of red-shirting players if need be. If the coaching staff want to stick with Winovich in the outside, he will probably find himself buried on the depth chart behind guys like James Ross III, Ben Gedeon and Royce Jenkins-Stone. If that is the case, the opportunity for playing time might be somewhat slim barring injury.
Winovich also has the frame and athleticism to pay in the middle or the inside position. Considering how defensive coordinator Greg Mattison likes to shuffle guys in his defense, those two spots could provide the best shot at playing time during the 2014 season.
It all starts with depth.
Senior Jake Ryan will need some help now that he has shifted to the middle of the field. Considering Cam Gordon has moved on and Brennen Beyer is likely to stay at defensive end, redshirt sophomore Allen Gant is the only viable option to back up Ryan. This is a spot where Winovich could come in and surprise some people with early playing time. Considering the depth behind Ryan is somewhat bare, Michigan will need someone to step up and fill the void when Ryan is not on the field. With the athleticism Winovich showed in high school, he could very well be that guy.
Joshua Henschke covers University of Michigan football for SB Nation's Maize n Brew. You can follow him on Twitter @JoshuaHenschke.