In two springs, four former Michigan football commits have found themselves drafted by the New England Patriots.
Each could be found in the 2016 Wolverines media guide. Each were, at that point in their college curriculums, in the same Jim Harbaugh locker room.
Defensive end Chase Winovich was a redshirt sophomore at the time linebacker Josh Uche, tight end Devin Asiasi and guard Michael Onwenu were all part of the incoming class. Winovich would go on to be selected No. 77 overall in the 2019 draft. And as a Patriots rookie, the third-team All-American would register 26 tackles, 5.5 sacks and a touchdown while checking into every game.
The bios of Uche, Asiasi and Onwenu now follow.
New England traded up for Uche, once a three-star recruit and 217-pound Michigan freshman, in the second round this April.
Winovich and Uche combined for a dozen sacks for the maize and blue defensive front during their final season together. The latter played on special teams, the edge and off the ball from 2016 onward, yet did not start until last fall.
“When he was at Michigan, I remember before every game we talked about what techniques we were going to use to beat the tackles that week,” Uche said of Winovich on his introductory Patriots conference call. “We would just always go over the motions in practice and, ‘Okay, this move is going to work on this guy. I feel like this guy struggles with this move.’ It’s just great to be able to have that chemistry back possibly.”
The chemistry continued in the third round with a four-star tight end from California’s De La Salle High School.
Asiasi, who transferred to UCLA after a freshman campaign that included a pair of receptions for 18 yards and a touchdown, landed the same Friday night as Uche. Just 31 slots later.
“Josh Uche, that’s my guy,” Asiasi told reporters. “Came in the same time I came in over there at Michigan, he was my roommate actually for my freshman Bridge Program at Michigan.”
And by Saturday afternoon of this year’s draft, New England’s virtual war room had traveled the Big Ten bridge to Ann Arbor once more. This time, to take Onwenu in the sixth round at No. 182 overall.
“I think it goes hand-in-hand with the school and the football,” Onwenu, an in-state recruit who played both sides of the line as a freshman, said during his post-draft media call. “I mean, obviously we come from a good school, one of the best public schools, and have some of the best coaches that are out there. We’re always being put in good positions to succeed on the field and off the field and we’re pro-ready.”
The Patriots last drafted a Michigan product in 2014. Prior to wide receiver Jeremy Gallon, punter Zoltan Mesko made his way to Foxborough in 2010. Linebacker Shawn Crable preceded them as a draft choice in 2008. So did quarterback Tom Brady at the start of Bill Belichick’s tenure as head coach.
As for the 2016 Wolverines, they’d finish with an appearance in the Orange Bowl versus Florida State and a 10-3 record. Winovich and Asiasi saw action in all 13 contests that year. Uche played in four games and Onwenu in nine.
Jedd Fisch, who enters his first season on New England’s staff, served as Michigan’s quarterbacks and receivers coach in addition to passing-game coordinator.