The senior from Plymouth made an impact from the moment he stepped on campus for the first time. He played in every game as a true freshman in 2018, compiling 15 tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. He took a big step forward in 2019 as a sophomore, once again playing in all 13 games and racking up 68 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, six passes deflected, 4.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
Then, adversity hit. Hutchinson broke his leg in the third game of the 2020 season. An offseason of rehab and “what-ifs” transitioned into one of the best regular seasons a Michigan defender has ever had.
As a senior in 2021, Hutchinson had 54 tackles, 14.5 for loss, 13 sacks, three passes deflected, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. He was a consensus All-American, won the Big Ten Championship MVP and finished in second place for the Heisman Trophy.
To say Hutchinson made an impact on the Michigan football program is a vast understatement. He could have easily left after the 2020 season when he was already on NFL mock drafts to teams in the first round. But he wanted to come back and leave a legacy by beating Ohio State and winning a Big Ten Championship.
Hutchinson did all those things and so much more. He set the new standard for the Michigan football program with his endless desire to be great, his drive and mindset to accomplish goals, and his natural-born leadership. Every player who comes after him would be wise to look up to him as the example of what it takes to reach the top of the mountain.
Michigan football changed for the better because of Hutchinson’s leadership, and it’s safe to say the program is in a much better place now than when he arrived just four short years ago. If it weren’t for him, who knows where this 2021 team would have finished. But one thing is for certain — Hutchinson helped turn the program around, and now it’s up to the players after him to continue what he started.