No. 97 at the University of Michigan has a special meaning to the Hutchinson family. Defensive end Aidan Hutchinson wore it during his monstrous season for the Wolverines in 2021. He wore it when he was terrorizing Big Ten offensive lines en route to being named Nagurski-Woodson Defensive Player of the Year and Smith-Brown Defensive Lineman of the Year, as well as winning the Lombardi Award and topping it off with a second-place Heisman Trophy finish. He wore it when he made 16.5 tackles for loss and 14 sacks. Now, he wears it in the first year of his NFL football career with the Detroit Lions, since being selected with the second-overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Hutchinson's affinity for his jersey number is a family trait. His father, Chris Hutchinson, was a First-team All-American Michigan football player, 30 years before his son. His number? I'll give you one guess.
Aidan Hutchinson's Dad Chris Hutchinson
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Chris Hutchinson was recruited to Ann Arbor out of Cypress Creek High School in Houston, Texas. Winning was a commonality in Chris' American football college career because, like his son, he was also a force to be reckoned with upfront. In his redshirt freshman season in 1989, legendary head coach Bo Schembechler's final year, the defensive end helped lead the Wolverines to a Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl appearance. His final three years were played under Gary Moeller.
Michigan won a Big Ten title or a share of it every year Hutch was on campus thanks to his pestering ability as a pass rusher. He finished his Wolverine career with 24 sacks, which ranks fourth all-time in school history and is 6.5 more than Aidan. However, Aidan has his father in the single-season department, where his 14 are a program record and three ahead of his dad's best mark. That's perfectly fine with Chris. The elder Hutchinson's Wolverines beat Ohio State three times, whereas Aidan can only claim one victory in the heated rivalry game.
After a short-lived NFL career with the Cleveland Browns, Chris, a three-time Academic All-Big Ten selection, turned to the medical field. He attended the University of Michigan Medical School and currently works as an emergency room doctor in Royal Oak, Michigan.
Growing up in Michigan and having a father who starred for the Michigan Wolverines made Aidan's college decision a no-brainer. He also took advantage of having a former college football stud down the hall by picking his brain.
"It was everything," Aidan told the Detroit Free Press in February 2017, after he followed the path of his father, Chris Hutchinson, by committing to Michigan. "We'd sit down and draw on a piece of paper, the O-linemen, the circles and x's and go over the techniques. And we would go over hand placement. We'd watch all of my film and he goes through it with me and tells me what I did wrong. It definitely is a huge benefit to have him as a dad."
Chris didn't force anything, though. He waited until Aidan, who played at Divine Child High School in Dearborn, Michigan, asked him for tips before offering any.
"He actually waited for me to come up to him," Aidan said. "He didn't want to be forceful. He wanted me to want it to get better. That was probably freshman year [of high school]. He taught me all the little stuff I was screwing up on and when you improve on it, that changes your game that much."
Chris is just a piece of the familial support system that surrounds the former Michigan defensive star. Chris met his wife Melissa Hutchinson during his time in college and Mia Hutchinson, Aidan's older sister, graduated from UM in 2018 and runs her own photography business. Aria Hutchinson, Aidan's younger sister, graduated from Michigan in 2021 with a degree in Neuroscience. As if you needed more evidence that the Hutchinson family blood runs blue and maize.
Aidan's received some of the best coaching in the land from Jim Harbaugh and former UM defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald (who joined the Baltimore Ravens staff earlier this year), and their instruction certainly prepared him for the NFL. N
However, a shared bond with his father planted the seeds that made him grow the face of the Detroit Lions future.
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