Out of any commit from Michigan's 2014 class, linebacker Chase Winovich may have the most intriguing story line. As a child, Chase had a very distinct collegiate allegiance. One that he has since quickly separated himself from. Growing up, Chase would watch Ohio State on television as many Saturdays as his Comcast cable company would allow. Since Chase grew up in Clairton, Pennsylvania, this was not very often. However, his affinity for Ohio State grew as he himself grew, and continued all the way up until his junior season. It was at that time Chase began to be recruited by schools across the country.
Winovich flourished during his junior season as he showed the tenacity, aggressiveness and instincts that are absolutely necessary to play the linebacker position at a high level. Once college programs evaluated his tape, it was only a matter of time until offers began to roll in.
The Wolverines, however, did not extend Chase an offer until early April, two days after the Ohio State had offered. By this time, Chase already held offers from Miami (FL), Virginia Tech, Pittsbirgh and Florida State as well. It's safe to say that his recruitment had officially taken off.
In the end, this ‘takeoff' was short-lived as Chase committed to the Wolverines on June 1st, choosing Michigan over Pittsburgh and Ohio State. It was his unofficial visit to Michigan on March 3rd that changed his perception of his childhood arch-nemesis enough to warrant a commitment less than four months later.
During his trip to Ann Arbor, Chase had the opportunity to bond with Wolverine coaches Mark Smith and Darrell Funk. These relationships, when combined with Michigan's excellent academic prestige and the on-field product, were enough to put the Wolverines over the top.
This is not to say that Chase's decision was easy though, as he had to overcome to stigma of committing to a school that he actively rooted against growing up. It was also a decision that would not be made without the positive influence of his support system and close family.
Since his family plays such an integral role in his life, it is clear to see why Chase gravitated towards what he describes as "a great family environment" at Michigan. Thanks to the help of already-committed Wolverines Michael Ferns and Wilton Speight, the Wolverines were able to reel Chase in as the 12th member of their 2014 recruiting class.
In order to further connect Chase with the Michigan fan base, I chose to take questions from Twitter and Facebook for this piece. Below are the fan-submitted questions, complete with Chase's answer in its entirety.
@ericrutter11 How much weight is he being asked to gain? Always amazes me how much these guys bulk up. Thanks!!— Moofis Footbone III (@moofis_footbone) February 3, 2014
"I was 220 going into camp last year, then I lost 10 pounds at the start of the year. I ended up gaining about five back, and then basketball started. I'll probably be somewhere between 215, 220 when I get there. It all depends. When you put on weight, sometimes there's bad weight then you have to lose that and start over. Whenever you lose weight, you lose muscle also, so it takes several months to build it back up. I talked to coach Wellman about that."
"Ferns and Speight were a priceless asset to my recruitment and without them I definitely think it would have changed my recruiting process. It was definitely always a resource whenever I needed a friend to talk to about recruiting or anything really. I think it's a valuable asset for anyone who's going through the recruiting process and that's something we try to convey to the 2015 kids that someone has to be a leader and get everyone involved or on board. It could be leaders too. They just need to convey that there's a family at Michigan because there really is. Michael and Speight and everyone did a great job of doing that."
"I had such a great relationship with coach Hoke that everybody in the recruiting process wasn't up to that level, and I think that was a big factor rather than anything they cast upon me at Ohio. It was tough to look at it as a business decision rather than a fan decision. I was an Ohio State fan for years and I've got Ohio State flags and jerseys and I had the Buckeyes in my room. It was tough to go from one extreme to their arch-rivals, but I had a great support. My family and my grandma especially really helped narrow my choices down and do what is best for me. It's cool to grow up liking a school, but at the end of the day you have to do what's best for yourself and go wherever the best opportunity there is for me."
@ericrutter11 does chase have anything he wants to tell Michigan fans right now?— Stephen Miller (@StephenM_Flint) February 5, 2014
"I'm looking forward to helping Michigan back to being Michigan again. I know these fans are hungry to see that and so are the players and incoming commits. Talk is cheap. It's time to go to work, and I can't wait to be a part of it. I want to win and win big."
Have the Ohio State fans been respectful since your commitment? - Brian Little (Facebook)
"Ohio State fans have been respectful. They are always bitter when you lose out on a recruit that you've been hoping for, but at the end of the day- especially when Michigan and Ohio State are involved, it's the worst to lose a recruit like that. It makes sense that they would be upset losing to a rival school, whether it is in recruiting or to a rival school. Those are the blood battles. Most fans are respectful, but there are always people that find something negative to bash you. For the most part they have been respectful, but there are always those couple people that will bring you down. There is always backlash that you can expect."
What would it be like to wear No. 47, Bennie Oosterbaan's Legend Jersey, at Michigan one day? - Scott Knapp (Facebook)
"It would be one of the biggest honors of my career. It wouldn't be just about my accomplishments, but it would be about my coaches. Jake is an awesome guy on and off the field, but he really deserved it. If I could be characterized as one of those people, it would be really great. That would be one of the biggest honors of my life. Like anything, it is a goal and one that won't come easy. When you get up every morning, that's one of the things that you have to work for."
"I would like to take some snaps if they could get me them at Wildcat. Competition brings out the best sometimes, so if there is a competition I might get in there. Run the wildcat and do that thing, have some fun out there. That's what I did in high school. You never know, I could take snaps back there with Jabrill."