Michigan football's Aidan Hutchinson: I'll be 'doing everything' for new defense in 2021

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Orion Sang, Detroit Free Press
·3 min read
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Aidan Hutchinson said there were many factors that went into his decision to return to Michigan football for his senior season.

The biggest one, though, had to do with how his junior season played out.

Hutchinson suffered a fracture in his right leg in the third game of the season at Indiana and missed the rest of the year. He watched as the Wolverines limped to a 2-4 finish, their first losing season since 2014 and their worst record under coach Jim Harbaugh.

That record, Hutchinson told reporters Tuesday afternoon, is “not very Michigan-like.”

[ Michigan's players feel 'fired up,' refreshed by new coaching staff ]

And it's why he chose to forego early entry to the NFL draft and return for his senior year.

Michigan State running back Jordon Simmons is tackled by Michigan defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson in the first half on Oct. 31, 2020, at Michigan Stadium.
Michigan State running back Jordon Simmons is tackled by Michigan defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson in the first half on Oct. 31, 2020, at Michigan Stadium.

“I want to come back and reset the culture here and get back to our winning ways,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson was so confident in his decision that he announced his return even before Jim Harbaugh's extension had been announced — and before the Wolverines had completed all their staff changes on the defensive side of the ball.

Hutchinson could be the face of the new defense. The departure of star pass-rusher Kwity Paye leaves Hutchinson as the most proven player in U-M's front seven. In 2019, his first season as a starter, he had 69 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, six pass break-ups and three forced fumbles.

A stout run defender and able pass-rusher, Hutchinson would play a large role in any new scheme. So: What role will he play for new defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who arrived this offseason from the Baltimore Ravens?

“I’m gonna be doing everything this year,” Hutchinson said. “Standing up, hand in the dirt, you name it. Just look at any of the edge guys for the Ravens — that’s who I should look like.”

Michigan defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson speaks as they march on South State Street on U-M campus in Ann Arbor to protest the postponement of the fall football season, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020.
Michigan defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson speaks as they march on South State Street on U-M campus in Ann Arbor to protest the postponement of the fall football season, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020.

Based on Hutchinson's production and pass-rushing prowess, it makes sense that his new role would resemble that of Baltimore's Matthew Judon, who has compiled 30.5 sacks and 93 quarterback hits over the past four seasons.

For now, though, Hutchinson is focused on rehabbing his leg. As he is just over three months removed from surgery, he has been a limited participant in practice, sitting out during the competitive periods of Michigan's practices while partaking in conditioning drills.

Hutchinson says his recovery is “going really good,” which bodes well since the Wolverines have a rather large role mapped out for him. Hutchinson within the new defense.

“I’m recovering very fast,” Hutchinson said. “Towards the end of spring ball, I’m gonna hop in some of those (competitive periods) just to get back into it. My recovery is going great. We’re almost there.”

Contact Orion Sang at osang@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @orion_sang. Read more on the Michigan Wolverines and sign up for our Wolverines newsletter. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model. Here's how you can gain access to our most exclusive Michigan Wolverines content.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan football's Aidan Hutchinson: Why I returned for senior year