The Wolverine

August 2022*

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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30 THE WOLVERINE AUGUST 2022 T he heart and soul of Michi- ga n 's fo o tba l l tea m , se - nior defensive end Aidan Hutchinson went to head strength and conditioning coach Ben Herbert and his staff last offseason and asked them to "wring me out." Herbert and Co. explained that "it's an all-you-can-eat buffet in the weight room," and that they were willing to push the 6-6, 265-pounder to new heights. Hutchinson's teammates began to follow the team leader and two-time captain, working alongside him. He and fellow captains Andrew Vastardis, Ron- nie Bell and Josh Ross helped foster a culture of hard work and an on-field identity of physicality and not flinch- ing. They were intent on turning things around after a 2-4 season in 2020. That set the tone for not only a his- toric season for the 2021 Michigan Wol- verines, but one of the best overall cam- paigns by an individual U-M player. Hutchinson led the U-M defensive line with 62 tackles, 16.5 tackles for loss, a single-season program-record 14 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble re- covery and 3 pass breakups. He led the Wolverines with a 94.5 Pro Football Fo- cus (PFF) grade and 74 pressures on 425 pass-rush snaps for the year. He was the Big Ten leader and third in the nation with 1 sack per game. He recorded three multi-sack outings, in- cluding two with a trio of quarterback takedowns — at Penn State and versus Ohio State. In the latter contest, two of Hutchinson's 3 sacks came on third downs, ending the Buckeyes' touch- down scoring hopes. He added 15 quar- terback pressures, per PFF, which is the most for any college football player in a single game since the site began track- ing the stat in 2014. "One of the great performances," head coach Jim Harbaugh said, describ- ing Hutchinson's afternoon against the Buckeyes on the "Hutch" podcast series. "I think it'll go down as one of the great performances against Ohio State in the history of the rivalry by either side. Right up there with Charles Wood- son and Desmond Howard." "This rivalry just cuts a little bit deep for me," Hutchinson said. "I grew up losing to Ohio State as a fan. Ohio State definitely won more times than not. Going to Michi- gan, I wanted to beat them so badly." Hutchinson was the runner-up for the 2021 Heisman Trophy, awarded to the most outstanding player in college foot- ball. He is just the fourth defensive player in the 87-year history of the award to fin- ish first or second in final voting. He to- taled 954 points, including 78 first-place TONE SETTER Aidan Hutchinson Was The Heart And Soul Behind U-M's Championship Drive MALE ATHLETE OF THE YEAR AIDAN HUTCHINSON Hutchinson was the runner-up for the 2021 Heisman Trophy, just the fourth defensive player in the 87-year history of the award to finish first or second in final voting. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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