Chris Hutchinson was a kid from Houston when he signed 29 years ago to play football for Michigan, where he was an All-American defensive lineman and a captain. Things have now come full circle as his son, Aidan, has committed to play for the Wolverines.
Aidan Hutchinson, 16, a Dearborn Divine Child defensive end, committed to the 2018 class on Tuesday when he informed Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh his decision. His father, mother, Melissa, and two sisters, also were there.
“We stood in the hallway, and all the assistant coaches came out,” Chris Hutchinson said Wednesday describing the rounds of congratulations that ensued. “It was like the kid had come home from college. It was like this surreal experience.”
Defensive line coach Greg Mattison will be Hutchinson’s position coach as he was for Chris Hutchinson his fifth year at Michigan.
“I don’t know why it surprised me, but Harbaugh told Aidan, ‘I remember when I met you two years ago,’ and he pointed to the exact spot on the field where Mattison had introduced them,” Hutchinson said. “That part of it is great to already have people there who know about your dad. It felt like family. Ann Mattison (Greg’s wife) was there and she had no idea. When she realized Aidan had just committed, she squealed and came running down the hall. They were at our wedding.”
It might be tough for sons to play for the school where their fathers had distinguished careers. Among those on the Michigan roster are Tyrone Wheatley Jr., and Jon Runyan Jr., whose fathers played for the Wolverines in the early ‘90s.
“It’s almost this mixed blessing,” Hutchinson said. “It makes me anxious because I don’t want him to follow in any footsteps and that whole comparisons thing. But this is what he’s wanted from the get go.”
Above Aidan’s bed, his father said, is a copy of that famous photo of Harbaugh and coach Bo Schembechler. On another wall is Hutchinson’s jersey from his playing days and on another are his five Big Ten rings.
And on a board in his room, Hutchinson spelled out his goals. As an eighth grader he tacked on a card that reads: “I will play football at the University of Michigan.”
“It’s still on his wall,” Hutchinson said.
But dad wanted son, whose first two offers were from LSU and Michigan, to make absolutely sure, so they took some visits. They traveled twice to Ohio State, visited Wisconsin and Michigan State and took a more recent trip to Notre Dame to check out the campus and facilities. Louisville and Minnesota joined in more recently to pursue Hutchinson.
“It was a good experience to see those places even though they’re our biggest foes,” Hutchinson said. “Seeing what’s out there solidified his decision.”
Harbaugh paid a visit to Divine Child last month and was greeted by school pastor James Bilot.
“The priest meets him when he walked in and Harbaugh said, ‘Give me your top three,’” Hutchinson said, laughing. “The priest didn’t know what he was talking about. ‘Give me your top three saints. You’ve got to have a top three!’ My son’s school was like, ‘Whaaat?’”
The recruiting journey has been interesting for Hutchinson who played in the era before star rankings, and the only communication was by mail and telephone. Hutchinson recently asked former U-M assistant Cam Cameron, who was on the staff when Hutchinson played, how he would have been rated. He was, after all, All-Greater Houston. Cameron told him he probably would be rated three stars.
“It’s so different,” he said. “I hid at my girlfriend’s house, because they would be blowing up my home phone. Now, Aidan will tell me a bunch of coaches DM’d him (on Twitter), and I’d ask who, and he’d say, ‘I don’t know. A bunch of people.’”
Aidan Hutchinson is rated four stars by 247Sports Composite and the No. 4 player in Michigan.
Hutchinson is one of the finest defensive linemen to play at Michigan. He was the team’s MVP in 1992 and the Big Ten’s defensive lineman of the year that season. He was 6-foot-2, 225 pounds when he played. His son is much bigger at 6-6, 245.
He admits his son is the better athlete. Aidan also plays at left tackle and has been a long snapper. He will play lacrosse again this spring, another impetus to make his college decision now so he can focus on lacrosse.
“He’s got my dad’s frame,” he said. “I never had the wingspan he has and his hands are huge. But you see me when you see his motor. I was probably faster than he was in the 40, but he’s got a totally different frame. People will say, ‘I see Aidan in you,’ and the only thing I see of me in Aidan is my hustle.”