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Jim Harbaugh ranks Aidan Hutchinson among most favorite players he’s coached

Harbaugh talks what Hutchinson brings to Michigan on the field and in the locker room.

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Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh is someone who doesn’t tend to compare one player to another, but on Thursday at Big Ten Media Days Harbaugh made note of how a former Wolverine’s work ethic is similar to that of a current one.

The comparison was drawn between Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson and first round draft pick, current Indianapolis Colts defensive end and former Michigan DE, Kwity Paye,

“He’s a guy that all the right things matter, he thinks about all the right things — talking about Kwity Paye. And then that is also Aidan Hutchinson in the very same way,” Harbaugh said.

Hutchinson has developed into one of the most vocal leaders on the Michigan team, someone who came back to the team this season to get the bad taste of last season out of his mouth. Harbaugh noted that Hutchinson could have been drafted in 2020 but is a team player who wanted to right the wrongs of the 2-4 campaign.

Hutchinson will be playing more of a hybrid role in new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald’s scheme, with more looks at outside linebacker standing up in his future. Michigan’s defense aims to be multiple in its approach, so Hutchinson will play with his hand in the dirt at end and also pass-rush and drop into coverage at OLB.

“True football player, real football player, he’s a big 267-pound guy that can move and move laterally, move forward, move backwards, move low, move quick. I mean, he’s got tremendous force, acceleration, mass, and a great desire to be good and to have his teammates be good,” Harbaugh said. “You talk about leadership, I mean pulling other guys in, holding himself accountable, holding other guys accountable.”

Harbaugh mentioned that Hutchinson is the type of player that players and coaches gravitate towards, someone they want to listen to.

“The kind of player that as a coach, if you’re sitting down, you’re rolling up in your chair, if you’re standing up, I’m like leaning forward here to tell you that, yeah, this is one of my absolute favorite guys that I’ve coached. And for all the right reasons. He does everything that you would want him to do,” Harbaugh said. “He gets the best grades, wins the most awards, excels at sports. He’s a really good guy. Great family, honors his dad, but he’s also setting his own legacy and it’s all A plus, plus.”

Hutchinson and Michigan will aim to win at a higher clip in 2021, and as Jim Harbaugh put it, beat Michigan State and Ohio State or die trying.

“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.”