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Aidan Hutchinson’s journey at Michigan, 2021 outlook

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Hutchinson could have a dominating 2021 campaign.

Michigan v Illinois Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Standout Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson has taken a leadership role on the team in recent years, and he wasn’t going to end his collegiate career after UM finished 2-4 in 2020 and his own season was cut short due to a leg fracture. Hutchinson knows theirs unfinished business

“I wanted to come back and reset the culture here — get back to our winning ways,” Hutchinson told the media this spring. “We want to get back to our usual 10-11 win seasons. Progressively get better every single year.”

The story so far

Hutchinson, a native of Dearborn (MI), was a four-star prospect in 2018, the top ranked player in Michigan and No. 112 overall nationally. Hutchinson coming to Michigan was a natural fit — his father, Chris, played DE/OLB at UM from 1989-1992. Hutchinson’s first unofficial visit was to Michigan, and he had unofficial visits to Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin. In the end, Hutchinson chose Michigan.

Hutchinson saw action in all 13 games his freshman season, registering 15 tackles, but it was his sophomore (2019) season that Hutchinson started coming into his own. As a full-time starter, Hutchinson 68 tackles (10.5 for loss), 4.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and six pass breakups.

Heading into the 2020 season, Hutchinson was one of the most prominent voices on the team, and his teammates elected him as a captain. However, the year didn’t go as planned for Michigan nor Hutchinson. Hutchinson had 18 total tackles in Michigan’s first two games against Minnesota and Michigan State, but fractured his ankle in the third games versus Indiana, cutting his season short.

Outlook moving forward

New defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald will be utilizing elements of what the Ravens did well when he was their linebackers coach a season ago — which means Hutchinson will be playing a hybrid role with looks at DE and OLB. “You just look at any of the EDGE guys from the Ravens and that’s what I should look like,” Hutchinson said. Defensive ends will be standing up at times instead of putting their hand in the dirt.

Macdonald wants Michigan’s defense to be multiple, and with that he’ll look to use versatile players like Hutchinson in creative ways. Hutchinson’s going to be asked to do more this year than rush the passer and stop the run, he’ll be asked to play a traditional end role along with being prepared to drop back and be an outside linebacker.

Hutchinson has displayed heart and skill at Michigan, and his potential hasn’t reached its ceiling. There have been glimpses of what a more seasoned Hutchinson can bring, and now he’s had a lot of time since his 2019 breakout year to improve his mental and physical capabilities as a football player.

The 6-foot-6, 269 pound Hutchinson could easily surpass his career highs of 10 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks set in 2019. It’s time to get after it, and Hutchinson knows this. His draft stock will soar if he has a great season.