Aidan Hutchinson deserves to win the Heisman (opinion)

Syndication: Detroit Free Press
Syndication: Detroit Free Press /

It might just be an opinion but here is why Michigan football star Aidan Hutchinson should be able to win the Heisman Trophy. 

Yeah, you read the header. Yep, many of you in the comments are going to try to give your opinion about this article, and say negative things and this and that, but I stand firm. Also, mind you, this is purely an opinion and should be taken like that.

Same as yours.

As most everyone knows by now, Aidan Hutchinson is a Heisman-trophy finalist. Can’t say it’s not deserved. I mean 58 tackles (14.5 TFL) and 14 sacks speak for themselves. He has to go against the best offensive tackles and quarterbacks in the nation weekly, so a recognition is well-deserved.

Listen, I want to preface everything first by saying that Bryce Young is a fine young quarterback. In a season of uncertainty over the Heisman frontrunner, he is one of the few players who have stood out week in and week out.

Alabama is a perennial dominant program for a reason. Year in and year out, they churn out NFL-caliber players who go on to have successful NFL careers at so many positions. Nick Saban is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, coach college football has ever seen.

C.J. Stroud is also a really good QB, although he is aided tremendously by having the best receivers in college football.

Lastly, Kenny Pickett is awesome. If I had to choose my second-favorite Heisman candidate behind Aidan Hutchinson, it would be Kenny Pickett. He’s a magician on the field and has done a masterful job with Pitt this year without having even close to as much talent as Alabama and Ohio State.

Ok, now that I go that out of the way, let’s talk Michigan football.

Why Aidan Hutchinson deserves the Heisman

Like I mentioned, Aidan Hutchinson deserves to win the Heisman trophy. I don’t care that Bryce Young threw for 400+ yards against Georgia in the SEC Championship game.

Here’s exactly what the Heisman trophy represents, word for word: “The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the [most] outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. The winners of the trophy epitomize great ability combined with diligence, perseverance, and hard work.”

The fact that there’s only one defensive player to ever win the Heisman Trophy only already adds to my point. That’s the first problem. Yes, college football has only become even more of an offensive-oriented league, with teams able to put up lots of yards and points in a second, but that shouldn’t take away all the great defensive performances that we have seen throughout seasons and throughout history.

As a matter of fact, it is only even more impressive when a defensive star can almost single-handedly disrupt an entire offense (ahem, Ohio State, a.k.a. the most explosive offense in college football).

That’s what makes Aidan Hutchinson so special. In an environment as offensive-heavy as college football, the few defensive stars that stand out above the rest should be more celebrated. It’s way more common to see an elite quarterback put up gaudy numbers than it is to see a player on defense have double-digit sacks in a season.

I can name three elite quarterbacks off the top of my head right now that have put up gaudy stats: Bryce Young, Kenny Pickett, C.J. Stroud. I can’t name three elite defensive players that have put up gaudy stats. I can name two:

Aidan Hutchinson and Will Anderson Jr. I don’t count Kayvon Thibodeaux because whenever I saw his games, he looked like he was half-trying. Plus, he doesn’t have the production to back up the hype (plus he plays in a much weaker conference than Aidan).

In today’s college football world, it doesn’t take an amazing quarterback to throw for 300-400+ yards and five TDs a game.

If it did, then Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe would be the Heisman Trophy frontrunner as he has thrown for over 5,500 yards and 56 TDs (yes you read that right).

Bryce Young has all of these receivers to throw to that help him get out of situations. Most of the time, Bryce Young throws to receivers that are wide open down the field.

Sometimes, these quarterbacks can just blindly throw the ball up like a prayer and the receiver can come down with it for a catch.

That doesn’t take skill. It doesn’t take talent. It’s called luck, and too many of these college quarterbacks rely on luck to lead them to wins and stats.

I mean look at Alabama’s 4 OT victory over Auburn. They needed so much luck to go right for them to win that game and stay in the playoff hunt.

The defense is different though. Aidan Hutchinson has to do everything himself. He has to stop the run by himself (on his side of the field), he has to rush the passer and get after the quarterback, and he also has to drop into coverage, stop screen passes, and short slant routes. Aidan can do everything.

You don’t see Bryce Young or Stroud playing defense, being able to make a tackle or drop into coverage. Aidan has to react to what the offense does and adjust accordingly. He gets double-teamed, triple-teamed, chop-blocked, tripped, chipped, held, dragged, and he still has put up 14 sacks and a lot of QB pressures.

Every single play, the offense has to account for where Aidan Hutchinson is. When you play quarterback, you rely on your teammates to help you out (receivers to make the catch, running backs to pick up a block, o-line to block for you) but when you play on the edge, Aidan is all out there by himself, doing his job by himself.

Yes, he has teammates on defense, but for his specific job, he has to do everything himself.

That, in my opinion, is why he deserves to win the Heisman. It’s not even just about the stats and the physicality and aggressiveness that he plays with.

No, it’s because, at the end of the day, his job is to shut the opposing offense down. It’s to get after the QB and wreak havoc. And because college football is an offensive-centered league, it should be even more impressive when a player manages to do that.

It’s so much harder to play on defense than offense. The defense has to be able to react and adjust on the fly to what they see in formations and play designs by the opposing offense. Every year, we see offensive players selected. It’s become a broken record.

Previous dominant defensive players like Deion Sanders, Myles Garrett, Ndamukong Suh, Joey Bosa, Chase Young, Jabrill Peppers, Dick Butkus, Chuck Bednarik, etc, all deserved to win the Heisman. It never happened though because an offensive player won it over them.

There needs to be more parity in college football. Defense isn’t truly recognized as it was once in the past, and that’s a shame. Having the flashiest offense is now the name of the game for college football and other football leagues.

Oh yeah, and by the way, Aidan Hutchinson broke his leg last year, came back, and is dominating this year, so the whole “perseverance” part of the Heisman quote applies to him as well. I can’s say the same thing about Young and Stroud.

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Hutch most likely isn’t gonna win it, unfortunately, but let’s hope that this issue eventually gets ironed out and we see more parity in college football. This has been one of the most wide-open football seasons in terms of the Heisman race, so, it really could go any which way.