Michigan's Chase Winovich driven to turn NFL contract into new car for mom

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor – The first purchase for former Michigan defensive end Chase Winovich after he inks an NFL contract will be a new car.

Not for himself, but for his mom, Anina.

Chase Winovich

Winovich was one of 16 former Wolverines to go through pro day at Michigan before NFL scouts on Friday. He posted some superb numbers as the NFL combine earlier this month, including a 4.59 40-yard dash, but during pro day he went through defensive line and linebacker drills.

“I told one team I was trying to get my mom a car if they could help me out," Winovich said, laughing, in response to being asked where he thinks he might be selected. "They’re going to decide if she’s getting a Ferrari or she’s getting a Camry."

Over the course of Winovich’s career at Michigan, his mother has driven a number of times from Pittsburgh, but the computer system in her car is broken, so she can’t listen to music or audiobooks.

“So the past year I’ve always been motivated by that, just seeing her face,” Winovich said. “That’s something I plan on doing as my purchase. After that, my brother (Peter, a financial advisor) will be handling all my money.”

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Winovich will have thumb surgery Wednesday to fix an injury suffered early in the game against Ohio State. The recovery will take about two months, but he delayed surgery so he could play in the bowl game, then train for the combine and pro day. He turned heads at the combine with his speed, and he has made an effort to alter perceptions that, as he said at the combine, he’s just a “try-hard white guy.” There’s more to him than that, although the non-stop motor image is accurate.

It wasn’t his call to go through both defensive line and linebacker drills on Friday, and although it was exhausting, he knows it just makes him a more versatile and appealing option for NFL teams.

“For me it was a matter of going out and showing endurance and that I can play both positions,” he said. “You’ve always got something to prove. I’m always a chip-on-the-shoulder guy. You’re always out there trying to present the best form of yourself.

Chase Winovich

“It’s exhausting. I tried to take it upon myself, even though I was breathing heavy because I was tired, I tried to take my brother’s advice from back in the day -- try not to show you’re weak and keep your hands not on your hips.

"It's a lot. I wasn’t preparing for it. They told me today. I didn’t even know coming into today. Am I doing linebacker? Am I doing defensive line? I was preparing for a 15-minute workout. Today it was a half-hour, double that and a lot more drills. I’m ready for anything. That’s my mantra: Ready to show up and work.”

Winovich, who is 6-foot-3, 256 pounds, said he has had conversations with teams about playing outside linebacker and also defensive end.

“It’s pretty much, I don’t want to say 50-50, but I’m getting the whole gamut, the whole spectrum,” he said. “I have teams that are 4-3, and they love me. They have guys on their team they compare me to. Same thing for 3-4 teams. I’ve had a lot of 3-4 teams love me. I don’t mean to sound weird by saying, ‘they love me,’ because I’m sure they tell that to every player they talk to. But in terms of marketability I think I’ve done a pretty good job through my numbers and the drills they’ve put me through of displaying the fact I can be comfortable in a 4-3, and I can have a high ceiling in a 3-4.”

While so much attention at the combine was on his Michigan teammate and fellow defensive end, Rashan Gary, Winovich impressed with his speed and agility in several of the drills.

Gary, who did not go through drills Friday after his impressive combine performance, said Winovich always displays a tremendous work ethic.

“I feel like him being known as a try-hard, fast (player), that just makes him who he is,” Gary said. “At the end of the day, Chase is a football player. Any team he goes to is going to like him. Throw in the tape, watch his pro day, watch the combine and just watch his work ethic. He’s a great player. Whoever is able to draft him and get him they going to be happy with him.”

Winovich said he isn’t changing who he has always been as an athlete.

“I don’t think there’s anything necessarily wrong with being a try-hard white guy,” he said. “There’s a lot of guys that make good careers out of it. I was trying to make the case, I’m that, but I’m also this, and it’s not mutually exclusive. You can have a motor that doesn’t stop and also possess elite-level quickness and agility. That’s what I try to show and that’s what I continue to work on.”

And then he’ll get his mom that new car.