Gorman: For TJ's Cherpak, recruiting becoming 'bizarre'
Upon finishing Chase Winovich's highlight tape, Bill Cherpak predicted that the Thomas Jefferson linebacker would be a coveted recruit.
So it's no surprise to the TJ coach that Winovich has about 30 scholarship offers and is at the center of an intense recruiting battle between Big Ten arch-rivals Michigan and Ohio State.
“I thought it would happen, honestly, because of the way recruiting is now,” Cherpak said. “It just blows up so fast. And I knew his film was good. They see his film, that he's all of 6-foot-4 and he can run, and that's all that matters.”
Winovich joins a long line of Division I recruits for Cherpak, from Tyler Reed to Jon and Chris Drager, Nate and Lucas Nix, Dom and Brock DeCicco and Pat Eger.
Reed and Lucas Nix were as heavily recruited as any player in the WPIAL, yet Cherpak is astounded by the number of schools that stop by TJ.
“It's ridiculous,” Cherpak said. “You'd think he was a five-star recruit. You wouldn't believe the people that have been here. People are offering without knowing much, if anything, about him. It's out of control. It's just bizarre, really bizarre.
“It's so much different now.”
That's what worries Cherpak.
One day, Michigan sent a linebackers coach in the morning and defensive coordinator Greg Mattison in the afternoon. Ohio State defensive coordinator Luke Fickell visited last week. So have coaches from Arkansas, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Michigan State, Missouri and so on.
“It's a zoo,” Cherpak said. “I get at least 10 phone calls a day. Everybody says they think he's the best linebacker around.”
That is the challenge for a high school coach trying to keep his player focused on school and football instead of recruiting.
Where it's easy for Winovich to get enamored with the attention, Cherpak constantly reminds him that this is part of a process where you have to sift through who is being sincere and who is merely serving as a salesman.
“Once you get there, all of this recruiting stuff is over,” Cherpak said. “You're not going to talk to the head coach every day. You have to talk to the players and hear what they say. As soon as you get there, they're recruiting someone to take your spot, so you have to produce.
“No matter what they tell you, that's the way it is. Kids have to see through all the recruiting B.S. and see what really matters. If you didn't play football, would you still want to go to school there? They can tell you whatever you want to hear, but what does it all come down to?”
It's the simple truth of college football recruiting: Film doesn't lie, but everyone else does.