WHEN HE WAS FIFTH GRADEAidan Hutchinson informed his father that he would be playing football at the University of Michigan. Chris had previously tied the school’s single-season record for sacks (11) in 1992.
Chris thought, “Awwww, that's so cute.”
It was also cute: Aidan hadn't played tackle football before and was two years away from having his parents allow him to. He was an excellent lefty quarterback and a competitive dancer who trained at the same studio with his sisters.
A 11-year-old nonfootball player declares that he is a future Big Ten scholarship football player. You can never stop dreaming, kid.
Chris passed Aidan's bedroom a week later and was reminded by his son's insistent, very specific way of embedding his dreams. Aidan later called it manifesting it. Hutchinson states, “I could feel the emotions that were associated with it.” “I was fully invested in it, I was 100% committed to it.”
Aidan started to remodel his room in order to achieve his goal. His dad's memorabilia was selected and he moved them in. Aidan learned journaling from his mom and began writing every day in the journal that he hoped to become a Wolverine one day. He tore out one page and stuck it to the mirror. It read, “I will play Football at the University of Michigan.”
Chris thought, “Huh?” “Maybe the child will get into it someday,” Chris said.
He did. Aidan accepted a full scholarship to Michigan in 2007 and has since been the No. 1 pick. The 2022 NFL draft will see Aidan Hutchinson as the No. 1 pick. You can see the outline of many smaller stories if you examine the main story of Aidan Hutchinson.
MELISSA HUTCHINSON REMEMBERS Aidan's very first journal. He was just 4 years old. He used to sit on the front porch and look at the sky. Then he would draw pages upon pages of Star Wars characters, including Yoda and Boba Fett.
For an hour, he would sit outside, sketching a stick figure Obi-Wan Kenobi. After a while, he would stare into space and pull a memory from his mind that he would then re-create on paper. He loved to draw the pictures but even more loved the moment he finished and gave the journal to his mom.
She would ooh, and ah as all mothers are legally required to do. Then she'd write the name and give the journal back to him. They exchanged love and it was literal. She treasured these moments, the handing over and forth, the dual contributions and the creation shared by the two of the them.
Melissa began to realize that Aidan had run out of pages. Melissa thought he might be able to do five more journals or 55. Or none. Melissa thought that maybe the first one was a time capsule of things they used to do together so she took a photo of him with her camera. He's outside, shirtless, looking at the distant, and wearing little cowboy shoes.
She couldn't decide between the journal itself or the photo of him writing in the journal. They were both kept by her.
FOR HOURS UNTIL ENDAidan Hutchinson, a little boy, would often sit to his side during dance classes with his sisters. Aidan was especially interested in the hip hop class. Aidan couldn't believe how fluid everyone moved. He was amazed at the ability of one child to dance with cool hair. He dances with a mohawk! he'd say.
He was 7 to 8 years old when he saw the show and was fascinated by it. However, he was afraid to do it himself. Both his parents knew that he would love dancing and excel at it if he got started. Melissa offered to take him one class.
She laughs, “Well, it wasn't much of a bribe.” He fell for it.”
Aidan was willing to sign up for the class. She said that she would take Aidan to Target to buy him a Bakuganball, a toy inspired by anime. It pops open and transforms into an action figure. Aidan attended the class and got his Bakugan guy. He then did five years competitive dance. Chris Hutchinson said that Aidan gained his athleticism today through the years of dance work he did.
BEFORE HIS JUNIOR YEAR Rumours circulated at Divine Child High School that Aidan Hutchinson was experiencing a growth spurt. Although he had a good sophomore year as a 6-foot-4, 200-pound grinder he felt more like a future MAC star than a Big Ten star.
Aidan Hutchinson 2.0, who had gained an additional 3-4 inches in height and 30 pounds through a growth spurt along with three months of weight training, arrived on the first day. Coaches walked past one class to see that Hutchinson couldn’t fit behind a desk. Hutchinson had been instructed to use the chair beside the desk. Hutchinson had then to reach over the top of his desk to complete his work. He wouldn't be walking around at Mid-American Conference schools.
A FEW WEEKS INTO HUTCHINSON'S Divine Child's junior year saw a huge fourth-and-2 defensive play. The snap was taken by the quarterback and the offense moved to their left. The running back flipped and received a counter pitch to the right. All 11 defenders were heading the wrong direction.
The coaches at Divine Child thought it would be a simple first down.
They were unable to stop staring at each other in anger with the football gods when Aidan planted his right leg and jumped the other way. It was an incredible display of athleticism. As if somebody had hit fast-forward only on Aidan, it brought home what had occurred along with the growth spurt. Aidan's body was now in line with his work ethic, football IQ, and work ethic.
FINAL PLAY Theo Day, Hutchinson’s high school quarterback football team, played a fourth-and goal from the 18-yard-line. Day and Hutchinson had been good friends. Day was thrilled that Hutchinson wanted to play tight end as a senior. Hutchinson was the perfect target for miracle lobs to save their senior class' season in the state playoffs.
Day, now the quarterback for Northern Iowa, snapped the picture and saw Hutchinson running down the middle. Hutchinson was clearly a target so the defense had placed defenders ahead of and behind Hutchinson.
Hutchinson found a spot near the end zone where Day had space. Day was able throw a beautiful ball to a crowd. Hutchinson was close to the ball, but couldn't get it down.
Hutchinson was devastated by the defeat. After the loss, Hutchinson changed his clothes in the locker area. His teammates tried to explain that there was a holding call, but that the team would not have been this far without Hutchinson's dominance on both sides.
Hutchinson showed affection to his teammates by giving them handshakes and hugs, but then he left the room to go home with his parents. His dad said that Hutchinson could have caught it and that was all he could concentrate on.
The coaches of his Divine Child were concerned about Hutchinson all night and Saturday. After receiving a text message on Sunday, the coaches realized that Hutchinson was fine. “Can you open up your weight room on Monday?” Hutchinson wrote.
THE LAST GAME HUTCHINSON As a high schooler, he played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl at San Antonio. John Filiatraut, his head coach, was nervous on the way. He had taken the job as Divine Child coach at the same moment Hutchinson arrived in high school. In many ways, the two of them grew up together over four years.
He was more nervous than he thought on the day of the match — Filiatraut wasn't certain how Hutchinson would compare to the fastest, strongest, and most athletic kids in the country. Filiatraut states that Aidan was the top player in our league. “But what does it mean nationally?”
It meant so much. Because Filiatraut couldn't stay still in his chair, he had to view the game from the mezzanine. He spent much of the time chatting with coaching friends as he watched the action unfold on the field. Hutchinson won the game with 2.5 tackles and two sacks. He even had one on Trevor Lawrence.
Filiatraut said that Aidan was just as good as anyone on the field. He saw it as an opportunity for him to compete with really good players, and I think that he is looking forward to the NFL's equivalent. Even if he does get his butt kicked during training camp, he will still see that as an opportunity for him to learn.
HIS SENIOR PROMSome chaperones were a bit concerned by the chaos on the dance floor. The dance floor was filled with a group of 10 children, then 20 kids, and finally the senior class of 200. They were bouncing to the music and rhythmically becoming one entity that moved together.
It eventually grew to be so large that it was a safety hazard for the adults. Some teachers swung in to the middle to ensure everyone was safe and standing. They played with every kid until they finally got close enough to identify the heartbeat of the organism.
Aidan Hutchinson was there, shirt untucked and sweaty, smiling.
BEFORE AIDA LEFT FOR MICHIGANMelissa Hutchinson wondered whether their journaling was over. Aidan approached Melissa as they were packing him away to go and asked her, “Can I bring some journals?”
They would continue their relationship, but it was likely to end when Aidan became too busy and distracted as a freshman at college, Melissa thought. He accepted the journals and she handed them to him. But she was unsure if her little boy would go to college and keep the journals hidden in his room.
HUTCHINSON AS SOON AS HUTCHINSON Once he settled in Michigan, he began to write down a long list specific goals. But he wasn’t using his journal.
He started using goal sheets, which were much easier to hang on his walls. Melissa admits that he was initially sad. “But, I was glad that the man still wanted to write down all the things he wanted.”
Hutchinson wrote the following:
“I want to become an All-American.”
“I want to be able to run a sub-4.740.”
“I want 270 pounds.”
He was so passionate about one goal that he wrote it down on Post-Its and stuck it to the wall. His room would be flooded with people and his Post-It could sometimes disappear. Hutchinson did not mind. He would write it again and stick another Post-It to the wall to replace the one that was missing. He kept it fresh in his head, just like that.
It was said, “I will win The Heisman.”
Coworkers and friends would laugh at the idea of a defensive player winning a Heisman or being a finalist in an era when it feels like only quarterbacks have a chance. Hutchinson insisted that he would get there one day. “I'm gonna make it,” he repeated over and over, sometimes referencing a quote that his mom often says to him: “If they don’t smile, you’re not dreaming big enough.”
Three years later, Aidan Hutchinson received 78 first-place votes. He also finished second in Heisman voting.
AT THE END of SEPTEMBER 2019,,Michigan coaches began to rely on their defensive ends, Hutchinson & Kwity Paye. They were about to face No. 14 Iowa and its incredible tackles, Tristan Wirfs & AJ Jackson.
The coaches said to them that those guys were future NFL players, their lips fluttering in concern. “Hope that you two are ready. They are good enough to embarrass anyone out there.
Paye and Hutchinson would glance across the room during position meetings throughout the week leading up to that game. They would then shake their heads. They understood that the coaching staff was trying to get them riled up, and it worked.
They also destroyed Wirfs, Jackson that Saturday. Hutchinson, Paye (2021 Colts first-round pick) combined for 3.5 tackles for loss and five sacks. Iowa tried to help Wirfs or Jackson but was panicked by Michigan, who finished the game with eight sacks in a win of 10-3. Paye kept shouting at Hutchinson during the intermission, “We are killing these guys!” Hutchinson, however, didn't respond.
They were so fast getting into the backfield that on one play they collided the quarterback. Hutchinson finally made eye contact with the quarterback in the huddle following that play. He said, “Let's try it again.”
Paye said that now, “That's when I said, Aidan Hutchinson'.”
AGAINST INDIANA IN 2020Hutchinson, who had suffered a leg injury, limped off of the field. Hutchinson walked away on his own. However, everyone was shocked when X-rays revealed that he had broken his ankle.
The team trainer eventually climbed up to the stands and instructed Melissa and Chris to go to the locker room. Chris, a doctor in the emergency room since the end of his playing career, took X-rays from the stands and tried to comfort his son.
Chris stated, “It's a simple break, Aidan. I think once you heal it and rehab it you will be fine.”
Aidan just stared at his floor. They returned him to the house, and set him up in their living room. He could place his leg up and keep it there. Chris got his gaming console and went to bed.
Chris called Aidan to check on him in the morning. Aidan replied, “I believe that you are correct about my ankle.” I will get to my rehab and will be 100% again.
Chris isn't certain if Aidan actually wrote that down. He and his son thought it was just as good as a journal.
FOR A WEEK One of Hutchinson’s former Divine Child teammates, Liam Soraghan texted his friend to inform him about the upcoming matchup. Soraghan, who is 6-foot-7 and 261 pounds, is a solid blocking tight end for the Huskies… but even Soraghan knew he was an underdog in the face of the nation's most disruptive defensive players.
The trash-talking started early and was very serious. Soraghan doubled his efforts to get them onto the field and yelled, “I'm here every day, Hutchinson!” You think you're so powerful and so tough. But I know you!”
Hutchinson did not respond as usual. He later told Hutchinson that he was trying get defensive signals to Hutchinson. “You just kept screaming at me!”
They went head to head on 10 to 15 plays. Hutchinson almost sacks QB Rocky Lombardi, eating up Soraghan with a single pass rush.
Soraghan smiles proudly and recalls a running game on which they engaged. Hutchinson then pursued Soraghan downfield while Soraghan ran alongside him. Soraghan slipped his hands under Hutchinson’s shoulder pads, and he fell on his back. Soraghan said, “I caked him.” “I got him good.”
Hutchinson smiles at the question about the play but you can sense his competitive side getting back up. He says, “If it makes him happy, and if it helps him sleep at nights, then so be that.”
Soraghan was face to face with Hutchinson during the play. After that, he turned his head and said, “You're never gonna hear the end.” Hutchinson could not help but smile from the back at Soraghan and give him a congratulatory smile.
According to Soraghan, a source close to Soraghan, Hutchinson has not heard the last of that one.
BEFORE AIDAN’S OHIO STATE GAMEChris and Melissa settled in their seats at the Michigan bench. Aidan and his dad have been fighting for Ohio State victory for four years. The pressure was mounting as Aidan's Wolverines teams fell in the biggest rivalry game. Although the father and son are very close, there is a competitive side that they both enjoy. Chris was 4-0-1 against Ohio State during his career. He also held the Michigan single-season record of 11 sacks.
The Big Game became even more important for Michigan in November. The Wolverines won and were now on their way to the College Football Playoff. Aidan had accumulated 10 sacks for the season and was now able to win his first ever career victory against the Buckeyes.
Melissa was unable to take the pressure and began to wander around the stadium, before finally sitting down in her chair to meditate to calm her nerves. After the first quarter, however, Melissa began to feel more calm. Aidan was experiencing a day that saw him generate 15 QB rushes, which is a Pro Football Focus record. He eventually stood behind the bench to tell his parents: “They can’t block me.”
Chris knew then that his sack record was a sham. It was. Aidan completed the game with three sacks, and 2021 ended with a school record of 14.
DON BROWN HAS BARKED Brown can recall shouting at Aidan Hutchinson the first time. He also yelled at many other football players of his day. Brown's words flow from under a thick mustache and would make a great mascot for Football Coach University.
Brown was Michigan's defensive coach from 2016 to 2020. He thinks it was during Hutchinson’s first year when he had to take aim at him for letting a player get lower than him, and then drive him out.
Brown's mistakes can cause freshmen to lose their vision and have their hair blow out. Hutchinson, however, didn't hesitate. Brown was actually a bit rattled. He tried to get into Hutchinson more, but Hutchinson became more riveted, taking in the harsh criticisms with a style that communicated his desire for every ounce.
Brown realized that he would never yell at Hutchinson ever again as he slowed down. He didn't. Brown admits that sometimes his head can fall off and that my teeth may be loosened. Brown says that it didn't bother him. He wouldn't let me rattle his cage, so I didn’t bother to try.
OVER THE YEARSThe Hutchinson house is located about halfway between Ann Arbor & Detroit. It has been a borderline animal welfare society, mainly cats and dogs, since its inception. Aidan and his sisters were taught to love their pets and also experienced the pain of losing a pet.
Aidan started to consider getting a pet early in his Michigan career. He wasn't sure he was ready to go through the heartbreak all over again.
“Why do we keep getting animals only for them to die X number of years later?” He asked his mother.
His mom said, “It is better to love someone than never to love at all,”
Aidan thought that this was how it should be done.
SOME THINGS TO DO THIS SOME SUMMERAidan called his mom. He told his mom that he was ready to become a cat dad. After much deliberation about whether to get cat or dog, he finally decided to go for it.
Melissa was the adopting ringleader. She organized family outings to visit shelters and the ASPCA over the weekend. Aidan found his new cats after a few weeks. Momo, a female cat, is timid around Aidan. She then runs under his feet like a loose shoelace. Mitty, a man, is more outgoing. He has all the attributes of a bank robber. Hutchinson received a video from Aidan's roommate. He shows a mysterious man stumbling with his room door. Then, the door swings open, and Mitty stands upright.
Aidan was in Ann Arbor, training for the combine. His mom FaceTimed him from her apartment once or twice so that he could say hi to his friends. He sighed and said, “They are getting so big mom.” “I can’t wait 'til I can bring them along with me wherever they end up.”
Aidan smiles after the combine and points to his right during a Zoom. Aidan says that the cats are looking out from their window. Aidan clarifies, “I'm not just a cat guy,” he says. animalHe says that he is a “guy” and Mitty and Momo will soon have a couple of dog friends.
He says, “You have these pets for different parts in your life.” They're there to help you, and it is hard to say goodbye. The moments that you share with them at this moment in your lives make it all worthwhile.”
JUST LIKE 4 YEARS EARLIERThe Hutchinsons travelled to Ann Arbor to assist Aidan with his packing. This time, he was going to California to train.
Aidan packed his bags and hugged both his dad and mom towards the end. Their boy, who was 6'7″ and 265 lbs, was heading for a multimillion-dollar NFL career. He is projected to be No. 1 in the draft. Jacksonville.
Aidan gave his mom a gift before he left. During his final year at Michigan, Aidan was actually doing some journaling. He kept all his notes in the journal. He hoped to become an All-American, get stronger and faster, break his father's sack record and win the Heisman. She was shocked to see that he had done everything he had recorded.
It is a manuscript by a young man who saw his stardom and believed he could make it real. This was possibly the final chapter of an 18-year-old tradition that he and mom shared. This is a great storybook ending for General Grievous, her mom, and him. Melissa could live like that.
Melissa was able to hear Aidan's voice as she flipped through the pages. “Mom, could you get me a new one?”