TAMPA, Fla. — The college football bowl season is back upon us. So what’s the Michigan football team been up to?
Let’s recap. Here are some of the biggest storylines following the Wolverines over the holiday season.
Winovich leads fundraising cause
It’s hard to miss Michigan defensive end Chase Winovich’s long blond hair when he’s on the field, but when he suits up against South Carolina next week, he’ll stand out even more.
Winovich will dye his hair orange in support of the ChadTough Foundation, after creating an online fundraiser for the cause last week. Tammi and Jason Carr created the ChadTough Foundation in honor of their son, Chad, who passed away from a rare form of brain cancer in 2015. Chad and his story became well known in the Michigan community.
Winovich talked earlier this season about using his long hair for charity, and last week encouraged fans to donate online in support. All the money raised from the initiative will go to the Pediatric Brain Tumor Research Initiative at Michigan Medicine.
Winovich stated that he would dye his hair orange — Chad loved the color — if fans raised $15,000 (for his jersey number, 15). Other Wolverines quickly got involved — Grant Newsome, Maurice Hurst, Josh Metellus and Devin Bush will all go orange, too — and defensive coordinator Don Brown said he would dye his mustache orange if fans raised over $125,000.
“The Wolverines have shown what happens when you find a cause that’s greater than yourself and you embrace it,” said Tammi Carr in a post on the ChadTough website. “These men said they wanted to help and almost 2,000 people so far have jumped in and said, ‘We want to help, too.’ Each and every one of those people have stood up and come together, to do what they are able.”
In just one week, the fundraiser reached all of its goals, and continues to set the bar higher, having received over $135,000 in donations as of Wednesday morning.
Speaking of Winovich…
The redshirt junior defensive lineman still hasn’t announced his plans for after the bowl game. Winovich still has one year of eligibility left, but his standout season has propelled him into NFL Draft discussions.
After the 31-20 loss to Ohio State, Winovich said he was still undecided about returning to Ann Arbor.
Winovich racked up elite numbers in 2017, with 17.5 tackles for loss, eight sacks, 74 total tackles and two forced fumbles.
If he returns, all but one defensive starter will be back in 2018 — the only loss being fifth-year senior defensive tackle Maurice Hurst.
At the team’s annual banquet earlier this month, Winovich talked about the decision making process.
“The consensus is that I can’t go wrong,” Winovich said at the banquet. “If I leave this year, I go make a lot of money. If I come back here, I have a great opportunity. And there’s nothing wrong with (redshirt freshman quarterback) Brandon Peters, but with (transfer quarterback) Shea (Patterson) coming here, just the possibilities are endless and it would be a great opportunity to see things through.”
A new quarterback in Ann Arbor
As Winovich mentioned, a new face will join the quarterback competition next year. Ole Miss quarterback Shea Patterson announced his transfer to Michigan earlier this month — another transfer quarterback in the Jim Harbaugh era.
Patterson, though, looks to have more promise than the transfers of the past.
The rising junior passed for over 2,200 yards and threw 17 touchdown passes in just seven games this season for the Rebels. Before an injury kept him out the latter half of the season, Patterson led the SEC in passing yards.
The quarterback competition between Brandon Peters, Shea Patterson and current freshman Dylan McCaffrey will likely be the most talented quarterback competition Harbaugh has had yet.
Hurst won’t skip Outback Bowl
It’s not uncommon for top NFL prospects to skip out on bowl games, but Michigan defensive tackle Maurice Hurst will finish his career as a Wolverine out on the field.
Last week, Harbaugh announced that Hurst would be playing in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1.
Hurst has been the Wolverines’ best player this season, and he was a consensus All-American. He notched 59 total tackles and five sacks in 2017.
Harbaugh’s latest recruiting class got a handful of new faces after the early signing period last week, highlighted by a handful of four-star recruits from all around the country.
The class ranks third in the Big Ten according to 247 Sports, behind Ohio State and Penn State.
Some notable incoming Wolverines include Mustapha Muhammad, a 6-foot-4 tight end from Texas, and Florida-native quarterback Joe Milton. Cornerback Myles Sims is one of Michigan’s top prospects as well, a four-star recruit out of Georgia.
Harbaugh also snagged the two top offensive tackles in the state of Michigan, Jalen Mayfield (Catholic Central, Grand Rapids) and Ryan Hayes (Traverse City West, Traverse City). Both Mayfield and Hayes could help provide immediate relief to one of the team’s weakest positions this year.