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||Thomas Jefferson HS, Clairton, PA|
Thomas Jefferson High School produced Penn State OL Tyler Reed and has been one of the most successful WPIAL AAA football programs in recent years. TJ lost to Pine Richland in the WPIAL finals this season after 12 consecutive wins and lost to Hopewell in the playoffs the two preceding seasons. TJ also won a national seven-on-seven passing tournament in Alabama last summer over a field that included 5-Star QB Xavier Lee from Daytona Beach, FL.
Peter Winovich has been a mainstay of the program, starting at both quarterback and outside linebacker for the past three years. LionNews recently talked to Peter about his recruitment and Penn State’s interest in him.
We asked Peter about his senior season stats and got an interesting response.
“Honestly, I don’t know. I don’t really look at stats. I’m not sure. I know it (passing yards) broke 2,000 (yards). I was more concerned about going to the WPIAL finals.”
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Peter threw for 2,233 yards and 20 touchdowns (school records) this season.
Peter’s size and potential for growth (his dad is 6’7”) make him a candidate for a number of positions. What positions are colleges talking to him about?
“Quarterback, tight end, fullback, defensive end, outside linebacker or inside linebacker. Six positions.” Laughing, he added, “You pick whichever one you want to write in your article.
“Every school is different. A lot of people are predicting me to grow into a bigger frame, more of a tight end, fullback kind of thing. I have good enough defensive plays that I could play defense. Every school said I had so much to bring to the table. Even Bowling Green, they initially just wanted me strictly on defense. Now they’re saying they like me at quarterback too.
He added, “I never started playing quarterback until my sophomore year. (Joe) Paterno said, imagine if he had a quarterback coach.” Showing his sense of humor again, Peter continued, “I had (Head Coach Bill) Cherpak coaching me and he said numerous times that he didn’t know what he was doing. Linemen don’t know (how to coach quarterbacks).”
We asked Peter if he had a preference regarding a position.
“I’m more offensive minded but I just want to play anywhere. That’s why I’m glad I have Bowling Green, Akron and Richmond and then visiting Penn State. I have a lot of options I can choose from.
“It’s not guaranteed that you’re going to go and play in a Big 10 school,” he said in reference to Penn State. “You might never play. You might work as hard as you can for 5 years and never see a down when you could have gone to a smaller school. I have to be comfortable wherever I go because if something happens, you get hurt, you have to be able to stay at that campus.”
Peter has offers from Bowling Green, Richmond and Akron and will visit Penn State on January 16th. Is he expecting an offer from Penn State? How interested do they seem?
“I heard from other sources that they’ve been saying they’re going to offer me when I go up there. But I never know, its all business. They seem pretty strong. They’re coming to my (basketball) game tomorrow (January 13th). So they seem pretty interested. They’ve been keeping in contact. I talked to them yesterday.”
He continued. “A lot of times schools want to see if you’re really 6’3”. That’s what Bowling Green did. As soon as they met me, twenty minutes later they called me in the office and said we’re going to offer you a scholarship.”
What Penn State coach is recruiting Peter?
“Coach Bradley. My old recruiting coordinator was Kenny Carter but he took a job at Vanderbilt. So now I have Vanderbilt recruiting me. We just sent our tapes down to their head coach.”
And where does Penn State think he should play?
“Joe Paterno likes me as a quarterback. Then Bradley is the defensive coordinator and he’s saying, don’t worry, I’ll get you on defense. He’s trying to steal me for defense.“
So PSU is recruiting Winovich at QB and OLB?
“And tight end. They really like me at tight end. They signed a tight end but they don’t have that many tight ends. They only have one scholarship (tight end).”
Has he talked to Joe Paterno?
“Twice on the phone. I talked him before Christmas and then I talked to him a little bit after New Years. I was so surprised when I talked to Paterno. He doesn’t sound a day over 50.”
Have any other schools been in contact?
“Actually, I’m in contact with Miami of Florida. They’re showing a lot of interest. I didn’t believe it at first. I was like, nah this is a joke. It’s more like they’re waiting to see what recruits they get.”
Peter’s high school coach played college football at Pitt. Has Pitt expressed any interest?
“I did have a lot of contact with Pitt, but I guess I really don’t fit into their system too well. It’s funny. You’d think I’d have more contact with them considering my head coach is an alumni there and always goes down for practices. Ever since I was a sophomore, I was always going down to watch practices.”
Does Peter have a favorite at this point?
“It would be Bowling Green right now.” Why? “Just the atmosphere. Everyone is so team oriented. The coaching staff is great. I just felt at home there. They’re offering as an athlete.”
Would his favorite change if Penn State offered?
“I’d have to feel it up there. I went to the Ohio State game. I was right on the sidelines and they’re yelling “We Are Penn State” and there’s 110,000 people there. That did play a little bit on my mind. Plus, after when you walk out of the stadium and there’s literally 50 million RVs and you can’t see. And you walk by barns and stuff like that and there’s still RVs parked everywhere. I literally never walked more in my life. I walked from the stadium all the way in to the center of campus. I was like, this is so far. I couldn’t even find my car in the morning. I thought, this is nuts. I’ve heard a lot of great things (about Penn State). My mom went to Penn State. She was there for two years. She always said it was awesome up there.”