Every little kid grows up with a dream. Such visions are often reflected around the house, whether it be in the form of a firefighter poster on the wall or a bed designed to look like a rocketship.
For sophomore defensive lineman Aidan Hutchinson, his first dream never wavered. He aimed to suit up for the Wolverines at Michigan Stadium just as his father, Chris, did from the fall of 1989 to the 1993 Rose Bowl. As a senior, Chris earned first team All-American honors, won the team’s MVP award and was named the Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year.
In a 2017 Special to the Detroit Free Press about his commitment to Michigan, Aidan wrote, “In fifth grade, I wrote ‘I will play football at the University of Michigan’ on a torn piece of white paper and taped it to my wall, right under my father’s framed Rose Bowl jersey from his final game at Michigan in 1993. I looked at it every morning until that dream became a reality five years later.”
Chris left the program as one of the most decorated defensive linemen of all time, but, to Aidan, a pair of accomplishments stand above the rest — a quartet of Big Ten championship rings and an unblemished record against Ohio State.
For the last decade and a half, those rings sat in a shadow box in Aidan’s bedroom, reminding him of successes from another generation. Now a Wolverine himself, Hutchinson knows exactly what those rings mean. And with realization has come motivation.
“I’ve got all of his Big Ten championship rings in my room so I’ve got to look at that every time I come home,” Hutchinson said on Monday. “Obviously, I want it more than anybody.”
Hutchinson’s drive to beat the Buckeyes was intensified by ex-defensive line coach Greg Mattison’s decision to bolt for Columbus following last season’s Peach Bowl loss. Mattison, who coached his father during his first stint with Michigan, accepted a position as Ohio State’s defensive coordinator on first-year head coach Ryan Day’s staff in January.
“I found out (Mattison) is leaving,” Hutchinson said after Michigan’s spring game in April. “I’m like, ‘Oh, okay, whatever.’ And then he said Ohio State. That kind of makes your stomach turn a little bit. … I wouldn’t mind if he went to any other school. But that shit kinda hurts.”
At 6-foot-6, 278 lbs, Hutchinson — the team’s reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year — offers towering size for an edge rusher. Following the departures of Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich, he’s set to slide into an increased role in 2019 as the Wolverines aim to take down the Buckeyes for the first time since 2011.
The younger Hutchinson may already have one more tally in his loss column against Ohio State, but that hasn’t impacted his confidence.
“Everyday he tells me that he’s never lost to Ohio State,” Hutchinson said. “I envy that, I really do. … Ohio State’s always there at the end of the calendar. You can’t really forget about that. We’re coming this year.”