With Big Ten Media Days officially underway in Indianapolis, senior captain Aidan Hutchinson took the podium to field questions from the media. Not surprisingly, Hutchinson spent most of his media availability discussing the rivalry with Ohio State - and he certainly didn't hold back.
"I've invested so much of my energy - mental energy, physical energy - into giving this all I've got. I'm back for my last ride here. When I tell you that I've given everything - from in spring ball in coaching guys up, working out in summer conditioning, winter conditioning, rehabbing this ankle - I mean I've done everything for my body and what I put in it to insure that we have success this season. I'm just...I'm willing to die for this. I swear. I want it more than anyone, I promise you that."
"I'm 0-2 against Ohio State and we didn't play them last year, so it's going to be two years when we play them in November. We prepare for Ohio State every single day. In the weight room, in the walk-through's - every day we've got one thing on our mind and that's Ohio State, and what are we going to do to beat them."
"When you're working out and you're grinding out that last rep, when you think you can't go anymore, all I think of is 2019 sitting on that bench, being down two touchdowns and not being able to do a damn thing about it. That allows me to do two or three more reps, something that I think I wasn't even capable of. So having Ohio State there in the back of my mind every day is something that drives me."
Michigan finished the 2020 season with a 2-4 record, good for sixth place in the Big Ten east division. Though many were quick to dismiss the failures of last season given the unique and challenging circumstances of playing football in the midst of a global pandemic, it’s clear that Hutchinson feels a sense of responsibility to correct course and to prove that 2020 was an anomaly.
"One of the reasons I came back was to change this culture because I knew I was going to be a big part of it. I know guys see me as the leader. If you see a guy that's invested as much as me - and I'm the leader of the team - good things are only going to come out of that. That's why I've tried so hard this spring ball and this offseason to be this leader - its because I'm the leader of this team and I've got to set the example for these guys, and build a better foundation of culture just to get these guys fully invested in themselves and in the team."
"You look on social media, you look anywhere, and we're seen as...you can't find a single good thing about Michigan Football on social media anywhere. That's great and I love it. This is the first year for in Michigan Football for me that we've been seen as underdogs. Usually we're ranked top 15, top 10 sometimes, and this year we're not even ranked and I love it. I hope people continue to see us as the underdogs. Once we get rolling, you'll see the speed, the athleticism of this defense and our team. We're going to get rolling."
When asked if he's motivated by the 'underdog' role, Hutchinson said he's fully embracing it.
"Oh, hell yea. I love being seen as the underdog because you have no expectations. Usually Michigan Football has the biggest expectations because we've got the richest history, the most wins and all of that stuff. Usually we're seen as contenders or whatever, now we're going into this year and people think we're about to win six games. I eat that up. So, yea...I can't wait to put on a show."
Finally, Hutchinson was asked why he feels equipped to restore the culture and to lead the Michigan Football program back to the top of the Big Ten conference.
"I just think it's my calling as of right now, to be honest with you. My Dad having played here, I feel like all the stars are beginning to align. I have so much Michigan Football in my blood. My mom went here, my sister graduated from here, I just feel like it's my responsibility to get this team back on track."