Football

Aidan Hutchinson returning to Michigan Wolverines football team

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Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson announced Monday that he is forgoing the NFL draft and will return to play another season for the Wolverines.

Hutchinson, a junior, suffered a leg injury against Indiana in Michigan’s third game that required season-ending surgery.

There were questions whether he would return to Michigan or take a shot at the NFL.

“I talked about this with my family and we just came up with the decision [that] it would be best for me to return for the team’s interest and my interest,” Hutchinson said. “I really thought this team needs me this next season, I’m going to do everything I can to get this team back to where it needs to be. That’s my priority No. 1.”

Hutchinson led Michigan defensive lineman in the opener against Minnesota with eight tackles, and he followed that with seven in the second game against Michigan State.

He was coming off of a sophomore campaign that included 68 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.

“I really thought this team needs me this next season, I feel like my leadership, I wanted to come back to help this team and it was my responsibility to come back,” Hutchinson said. “Being injured, I didn’t get a chance to get a lot of film. I figured coming back, [I’ll] kill it next year, I think that will help my draft stock. I thought from a team aspect and a personal aspect this was the best decision for me to make.”

Because the NCAA is giving every student-athlete an extra year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hutchinson will have two years of eligibility remaining. Having him back on defense will be a welcomed addition as Michigan will lose star defensive end Kwity Paye, who is projected as a first-round draft pick and ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.’s third-best defensive end.

Michigan’s defense struggled this season, ranking 88th in yards allowed per game in a 2-4 season that saw defensive coordinator Don Brown fired earlier this month. Although Hutchinson now will be playing for a new coordinator, he said the uncertainty around the coaching staff didn’t outweigh the benefits of returning for both himself and the team.

“I definitely did think about [Brown being fired], it was in the back of my mind. After going 2-4 you don’t know what coaches are here or not,” Hutchinson said. “Me and my family made this decision a couple weeks ago, before Coach Brown was even fired, so really I’m just here to get the team back on track regardless of who the coordinator is. I grew up 20 minutes away from Michigan, I’m a Michigan man, and I think it’s my responsibility to lead this team to victory next year.”

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