Michigan Wolverines defensive end Aidan Hutchinson has been one of the best players in college football this season, and he has the awards, stats and highlights to back it up.
The talented pass rusher earned the Rotary Lombardi Award on Wednesday, to go along with being named a Heisman Finalist, First-Team All-Big Ten, the conference’s Defensive Lineman of the Year, Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Big Ten Championship MVP.
Hutchinson has been a menace for offenses all year long, as he racked up 58 total tackles, 15.5 tackles for loss, 10 quarterback hurries, a single-season Michigan record of 14 sacks and so many more pressures to go along with those.
Those stats stand out when discussing the potential No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, but the tenacity Hutchinson has on every play is clear to see; he makes a lot of plays for the Michigan defense solely based on his effort.
As Fox Sports’ Joel Klatt broke down in a video from earlier this week, part of what makes Hutchinson an elite talent is his ability to put on his best performance when the lights are the brightest.
The win against Ohio State was arguably his best game of the season, with seven tackles and three sacks. He didn’t give C.J. Stroud a lot of time in the pocket, while also not allowing the Buckeyes to finish their routes in deep passing schemes.
It’s hard for a singular defensive linemen to have much of an impact on most football games, simply because they almost never have the ball in their hands. But the constant pressure Hutchinson was able to bring all season has forced opposing offenses to plan around him.
Watching highlights of this kid should make Detroit Lions fans drool. As our Scotty White broke down earlier this week, if you watch Hutchinson’s highlights, you can see he uses a stutter step, a quick jab and a swim move to get past offensive linemen and chase down opposing quarterbacks.
One of the most underrated parts of Hutchinson’s play is all the attention he forces from opposing offenses, freeing up guys like David Ojabo, Mazi Smith, Christopher Hinton and Michigan’s linebackers to make plays.
Hutchinson and Ojabo on the edges have been a lethal combination for the Wolverines. Ojabo’s speed off the edge is able to collapse the pocket, while Hutchinson often uses a quick move to toss his blocker away and find the quarterback.
A perfect example of this comes at the 1:23 mark in the clip above. On 3rd and goal, Ojabo uses a quick first step to get past the left shoulder of the offensive tackle, forcing Stroud to step in the pocket where Hutchinson is waiting right for him for a sack to force a field goal in a key moment for the Buckeyes.
Hutchinson is one of the most pro-ready players the Wolverines have had in a long time. There’s a lot of rightfully-earned praise of him in Kyle Crabbs’ excellent breakdown for The Draft Network, but the first two sentences of his report really stand out:
“Michigan EDGE defender Aidan Hutchinson is the prototype. When you’re building out a 4-3 defensive end prospect and assembling the required tools for a dominant player, the end result will look a lot like No. 97 in maize and blue.”
Hutchinson has been one of the best players in country this year, and earned his seat at the Heisman Trophy presentation in New York. He has a reputation of showing out in big games, and in order for Michigan to advance in the College Football Playoff, he’ll need to uphold that reputation and continue to be dominant.