Michigan defensive end Chase Winovich shares insight on his stepped-up footwork and the weight he's gained since last season. Angelique S. Chengelis, Detroit News
\Ann Arbor — Leave it to Chase Winovich to find a unique way to describe his unusual football journey at Michigan.
Winovich, a redshirt junior defensive end, and his teammates are making final preparations for Saturday’s season opener against Florida at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. He met with media after Tuesday’s practice.
During his redshirt season, he worked at linebacker. Then he moved to tight end. And then he moved to defensive line during bowl practices in 2015 as the Wolverines prepared for Florida.
He finally found a home.
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“It’s been a day-by-day journey,” Winovich said. “It’s a bad analogy, but it’s the only thing I can think of on the top of my head — it’s like when you live with your dog and it starts gaining weight and somebody comes around it’s like, ‘Oh your dog’s gained so much weight,’ and you couldn’t even tell.
“It’s just like for me, it’s been such a gradual transition, gaining the weight, getting stronger, getting stronger on the football field. It’s been great. I’m happy where I am and I’m ready to work harder.”
This is Chase Winovich — a tad quirky with his analogies, and who, many teammates last season said is most like their quirky head coach, Jim Harbaugh.
Winovich showed up Tuesday night after practice wearing glasses that look a bit like the spectacles Harbaugh often wears in homage to, among others, the late Ohio State coach, Woody Hayes.
“They’re probably fake,” offensive lineman Patrick Kugler said Tuesday referring to Winovich’s glasses. “He just wants to look good. That’s a Chase move.”
Kugler was joking, but it didn’t hurt to tell Winovich about the comments.
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“As (UFC fighter) Conor McGregor says, his quote was, the glasses are fake, I don’t need them, but I just like the way they look,” Winovich said, laughing. “But for me, they are actually real. I do get that a lot. I lot of people want to try them on and test them.”
And maybe he was drawn to the frames because of an interaction with Harbaugh.
“I had noticed two or three years ago, I pulled a hamstring in camp,” he said. “I was in his office and it’s like one of the most memorable experiences for me, how we were in his office. I saw a side of coach Harbaugh that was a little less edgy than he normally puts on. He had these glasses, the tortoise shell. That was my first experience noticing that.
“I did not buy them to be like coach Harbaugh, though.”
He pulled a Harbaugh interview move Tuesday night, too. Sometimes, when a reporter thinks Harbaugh has finished answering a question, another will be asked, but Harbaugh returns to finish answering the first question before addressing the new question.
Winovich was asked how he expects to fill the large shoes left by Taco Charlton, now in the NFL playing for the Cowboys.
“You think about it, but at the end of the day, you’ve got a job to do and you go out and do it,” Winovich said. “You don’t get caught up in this and that. It just bogs you down. I’m just going to go out there and give it everything I got. If that’s not enough at the end of the day, you pick yourself up and say you gave it your best shot.
“But I hope to fill those shoes.”
It sounded as though his answer was complete. Another question was asked. Winovich went back to the question about taking over for Charlton. It was pointed out that is a classic Harbaugh move.
“I don’t want to leave it as like, ‘Oh, I don’t think I’m going to be able to do it,’” Winovich said, laughing while explaining why he wanted to continue his thought. “That’s not my point at all. I definitely think I can fill those shoes.”
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Before the bowl game last season, starting defensive lineman Chris Wormley, also in the NFL, said he thought Winovich would be the most surprising player this season.
To that end, Winovich said he has worked hard in the offseason to continue to improve, especially his footwork.
“(It) has definitely improved the most in terms of A. selling different moves and B. my distance gained on my steps,” Winovich said. “I struggled a little bit last year, and I think it’s going to be my most improved thing, which is going to help me. And my weight helps me. I’m a lot bigger and way stronger than I was last year.”