U-M freshman defensive end Aidan Hutchinson on being mentored by Rashan Gary The Detroit News
Ann Arbor — Aidan Hutchinson has heard more than once that his father, Chris, was an All-American defensive lineman at Michigan.
In fact, he has heard it plenty.
“All the time,” Aidan, who played locally for Divine Child, said, laughing.
Like father, son is a defensive lineman at Michigan and already as a freshman has had playing time in all four games. Chris Hutchinson wasn’t the biggest lineman but, as the cliché goes, he played big. His son is a much more monstrous 6-foot-6 and after putting on 15 pounds this summer is up to 268.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh this week said young Hutchinson is already playing at an “upper-class” level, and junior Rashan Gary, one of the top linemen in the country, is telling people Hutchinson is better than he was as a freshman. Remember, Gary arrived as the nation’s No. 1 player.
“That kid is going to be an All-American here,” fifth-year senior lineman Lawrence Marshall said this week. “I don’t want to speak too fast. Let me slow it down a little bit, but he’ll be an All-American by the time he’s finished.
“He’s strong, he goes hard, he’s smart. He really understands football.”
Hutchinson has a long way to go to match or top his father. Chris Hutchinson was a tri-captain as a senior at Michigan in 1992 and was the team’s Most Valuable Player recipient. He was the Big Ten’s Defensive Lineman of the Year and an All-American.
Greg Mattison had the fortune to coach Chris Hutchinson and now his son.
“I know one thing — his father was one heck of a football player,” Mattison said. “He may be the best I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach with his intelligence, his technique, his strength, his desire. All the things that make a great defensive lineman. Aidan has a lot of that in him.
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“The good thing is Aidan has six more inches. He’s got a great future.”
Hutchinson doesn’t pay much attention to the attention he has been receiving. He is self-motivated and said while he knows what his father accomplished at Michigan, he has his own goals. He has 10 tackles his season including one tackle for loss.
“I set the bar high for myself,” Hutchinson said. “Obviously, him being an All-American here, I know there’s a high standard for me, but I set my own expectations for myself and I set the bar for myself.”
Mattison said because he knows Chris Hutchinson and his family, he knew what Michigan would be getting in Aidan. He knew the work ethic and the goals he would be pursuing.
“I know one thing, when we recruited him and he signed with us and we knew that he was coming here we were very, very excited about it because he’s very mature, he’s very intelligent. Obviously he comes from unbelievable stock. That family is off the charts and not just the father, who I had the fortune to have a chance to coach, but the mom and the sisters. They’re off the charts, and he’s part of it.
“That’s one thing that’s helped him. We always talk about that bar, I think in their home you’d find that bar is very high academically and athletically. He’s agreed a long time ago to do that and that’s why he’s doing what he’s doing.”
Upon his arrival at Michigan, Gary swooped in and made Hutchinson his student, much as Chris Wormley had done with Gary when he was a freshmen. Like Gary was as a freshman, Hutchinson has been attentive and has wanted to learn, paying attention to detail and following his mentor’s lead.
“Coming in here and getting coached and being mentored by one of the best D linemen in the country is definitely something you want to go into,” Hutchinson said. “I’m really blessed to have the opportunity from Rashan and for all the coaching he’s done for me.”
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That Hutchinson has seen the field as much as he has, particularly in last week’s blowout of Nebraska, has been a bonus for the freshman.
“I think I worked hard to get here,” he said, later adding he knew how hard it would be to break into the two deep. “Obviously going into this good a defensive line, it’s a little bit surprising.”
Going into the Notre Dame game, Mattison told Hutchinson he would be in the rotation.
He was thrilled, but he got thrown into the game when Gary suddenly came out because he needed a breather.
“I went in there real fast,” Hutchinson said. “Honestly, I didn’t even know the play. I didn’t get the call in time, so I was kind of freaking out a little bit. My first play wasn’t ideal, but it was definitely pretty cool being out there.”
Hutchinson understands he has plenty to learn. He also knows people are already talking about him and expectations are high. That’s fine, he said, because he already has a stronger sense of what he needs to do and accomplish.
“I try not to read a lot of media stuff because I know my strengths, I know what I’m good at,” he said. “But I don’t tend to read any of that. I just keep my composure and play my game.”