UM's Chase Winovich dispels notion to NFL scouts he's all acceleration, not a force

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Former Michigan defensive lineman Chase Winovich doesn't want to get typecast as merely a try-hard guy as he tries to impress scouts at the NFL Combine.

Indianapolis — Chase Winovich takes pride in the fact people consider him a high-motor football player.

But he wants NFL teams at the combine to know he’s more than a guy with long blond hair who never quits. The former Michigan defensive end, voted the team’s most valuable player last season, will go through drills on Sunday and has had conversations with plenty of NFL teams sharing with them his versatility and football smarts.

“Teams ask me that question a little bit,” Winovich said Saturday referring to the high-motor theme. “It’s a dangerous game in a small way, because you don’t want to get pigeon-holed as a try-hard white guy. At the end of the day, I think there’s more to my game than that. There’s nothing wrong with that in a sense, as well. My whole goal is to get into an NFL organization, add more value and prove my worth every single day.”

It isn’t that Winovich is trying to escape the try-hard image, but he wants teams to know that he is a smart guy who understands what defensive coordinators want and what offensive coordinators are trying to do. He wants them to know how versatile he is and how he’s a top-notch athlete. He also has stressed he’s all about focusing on the little things and being a consistent player in practices.

Still, teams are drawn to his ability to be the Energizer Bunny.

“The first thing that pops up on everybody’s list is just like how hard I work and my play style and never taking a play off,” Winovich said. “Coach brought up to me yesterday — I’m not going to specify what name — but he brought up to me, he said, ‘All these players we’re bringing in for the most part, I’ll ask them straight up, do you play hard every play?’ And then next play, he shows them where they’re not playing hard. He told me he couldn’t find one of those (with me), though he tried. I take that as a pretty big compliment. I pair that with some of the explosiveness and the other aspects, I think that’s going to be a solid prospect.”

Winovich said his non-stop effort goes back to his high school days and a conversation he had with his brother, Pete.

“Honestly, for me it’s a combination of being physically able to,” he said. “I don’t know if I have more lung capacity than other people, just like being able to handle the breathing and not getting too fatigued. Really, it goes back to a mindset. Back when I was in high school going into freshman year playing basketball with the seniors, I was really nervous and my brother gave me a simple speech. He said, ‘Listen Chase, they can take anything away from you, but they can never take away your hard work and your passion. They can never strip that from you.’ I took that to heart literally and I made sure every single day I was bringing my best effort and couldn’t take it away from me.”

Although Winovich feels most comfortable in a 4-3, he said he has no limits.

“That’s the thing, in today’s football especially, being versatile is an extremely important aspect,” he said. “For me, I fill that role. There’s only 53 people on the roster and 50, I believe actually get to dress, so being able to play multiple positions is a commodity in today’s football. For me, I’m most comfortable going into the NFL as a 4-3 defensive end, just because that’s what I’ve done most of, but to be honest, I’ve viewed playing standup is how I got my start. I was a standup edge rusher in coach (Don) Brown’s cheetah package, which is his marquee rush package. So I was standing up there. I like standing up in my time at Michigan. That maybe was what I liked even better. But it was one of those things, how can you ask a coach — I went to coach Brown, this is what I did about getting more reps at dropping, and he came to me and said, ‘I would be pretty stupid to take one of the best pass rushers in America and throw him in the flat,’ so that’s something I’m going to need to work on. That experience only comes with repetition.”

Although Winovich went most of his career at Michigan injury free, he was banged up late in the season with an injury suffered in the Indiana game the week before the regular-season finale at Ohio State. In the second quarter against the Buckeyes, he suffered a thumb injury — the ligament pulled away from the bone — that requires surgery.

He decided to play in the bowl game despite the injury.

“It was tough,” Winovich said of playing with the thumb issue. “It was one of those things you’ve got to push through. You’ve got to weigh if the sacrifice is worth the reward, and as I mentioned before, Michigan has always been worth the sacrifice.”

Winovich will undergo what he called “avulsion” surgery at some point. He is not sure if he will participate in Pro Day at Michigan in a few weeks or if he will continue to put off the surgery.

He has no doubt he will give an NFL team everything they could possibly want from him.

“I feel an NFL team should invest in me because they know what they’re going to get,” he said. “They’re going to get somebody that A., has a track record of loving football and is durable and is going to give everything he has toward the program and is passionate. But they’re also going to get somebody who has high potential. I just switched to defensive end two some years ago. I’m a transcending player is the way I see myself. Any team that invests in me is going to get their money’s worth for sure.”

During his session with media Saturday, Winovich was asked about a comment he made regarding having the right amount of crazy. He has always been one to speak his mind without flying off the handle.

“I’m so passionate,” Winovich said. “Any time you show emotion it can be misconstrued as he’s not in control. I feel like there’s one thing to be like a James Bond cool. And there’s another to be warm and not hot where you’re uncontrolled and you don’t know what you’re doing. Most of what I do is pretty methodic. The stuff at Michigan State and coming out and saying, ‘Oh, Little Brother’ that was a direct response, preplanned. That was a coordinated thing. I’m emotional but I’m not temperamental. There’s a balance that you need to find.

“I’m very passionate about football. I want to be the best. I don’t want to lose to anybody who lines up against me. But I’m not going to jump off a bridge if it doesn’t happen. I’m going to get up, dust myself off and get back to it. You’ve got to be crazy enough to believe in yourself and double down when you know it seems unlikely, but you can’t be delusional.”

Twitter: @chengelis