Aidan Hutchinson’s parents didn’t place any pressure on him to choose where to go to college and play football. Chris, a former defensive lineman, and Melissa are Michigan graduates.
Aidan, however, got an education during the recruiting process. He learned not to let Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh intimidate him. He learned to keep his options open in making a decision about his future. And he learned the value of proper spelling as it related to making a major decision.
Aidan Hutchinson, a defensive end from Dearborn (Mich.) Divine Child and a member of the Wolverines’ 2018 recruiting class, sat down with Land of 10 to discuss his recruitment and his commitment to Michigan, what his secondary plans would have been and his first encounter with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh.
Q. Why did you choose Michigan? Was it a given because your family went there, that you would go there?
Hutchinson: It’s always been a dream of mine to play football at Michigan. After I got that offer my sophomore year, a bunch of other scholarship offers started spilling in. Michigan was always No. 1 for me, but I always wanted to keep my options open with other schools, just so I don’t have tunnel vision to one school. After visiting Ohio State, Wisconsin, Notre Dame, none of them really compared to the combination of what Michigan had with their athletics and their academics.
When I finally committed [in February of 2017], it was such a great feeling, knowing that all that hard work paid off. It was amazing.
Q. What was your second choice of school, if something happened where Michigan simply didn’t work out?
Hutchinson: Wisconsin was my second choice. I visited there, and it was pretty nice. I loved the campus, I loved the coaches, and I had a pretty good visit. If I had a second choice, it would be Wisconsin.
Q. Did you have a humorous moment in the recruiting process, one where you may have asked, “How did this happen?” or where all you could do was laugh?
Hutchinson: When I got offered by Wyoming, it was an offer over a direct message. They didn’t call me. They DM’ed me, and there was a typo in their DM. I forgot what word it was that was misspelled, but it was a typo. It wasn’t my name that was misspelled, but I just laughed so hard because they offered me over a DM and misspelled a word!
Q. If you could redo the recruiting process all over, what is one thing you would do differently?
Hutchinson: I don’t think so. I think I handled the recruiting process pretty well. I didn’t stay in it for too long, and I was getting recruited sophomore year, and I committed junior year. So I took my visits, and I’m pretty content with all the visits I took. I’m glad I didn’t take any more. I’m glad I didn’t take any less. I saw what I had to see and I’m happy with what I did.
Q. Was there a player or a group of players with whom you connected to in the recruiting process, whether it was someone else in the incoming freshman class or a current player on Michigan’s roster?
Hutchinson: I haven’t made a lot of player connections, but I’ve kept in touch with [Michigan tight end] Zach Gentry. He was my host on my visit. We got along really well and we text once in a while, so if there is a player, it’d be Zach. We’ve grown a good connection. I think once I get to Michigan, we will become closer.
Q. What was your first interaction with Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh like?
Hutchinson: I went to a practice when I was sophomore, and they called me and told me that I was named a “prospect,” so I could go to a practice. Jim Harbaugh had some pretty intense rules about who could see a practice. I was with my dad and [team photographer] David Turnley got a picture of me meeting Coach Harbaugh for the first time. I don’t know where that picture went, but it’s somewhere. It was pretty cool. He was just staring me dead in the eyes and I wasn’t really sure what I needed to do. I just kind of looked at him, but then I looked off a little bit because that stare is so intimidating!
But now, it’s not intimidating because I know him a lot more, and I know he’s not some scary dude. You look at him more as a regular guy who is coaching a football team.
Q. If you could give one piece of advice to a junior who is going through the recruiting process, what would it be?
Hutchinson: Just keep your options open. That’s my big thing. If you have a favorite school, that’s your favorite, but keep looking around. Make sure that’s the right decision that you’re making, because it’s where you’re spending the next four or five years.