Prior to his arrival in Ann Arbor, Michigan defensive lineman Christopher Hinton held offers from nearly every major college football program in America. The 6-4, 310-pound former five-star product out of Norcross (Ga.) ended up selecting the University of Michigan over perennial national championship contenders like Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Georgia and Notre Dame.
Fortunately for Hinton, he had a phenomenal support system around to help guide him through such an important and difficult decision. His father, Chris, was a first-team All-American offensive tackle at Northwestern University before being selected in the first round of the 1983 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts. His mother, Mya, was also a standout athlete on the basketball court at Northwestern.
With such a big decision to make, Hinton leaned heavily on the experience of his Mother and Father.
"During the recruiting process you have a lot of schools reaching out from all across the country," said Hinton. "Different academics, different football levels and different football statuses - it's very overwhelming. What my family and I did is we sat down and listed what was important to me, what was important to my family when deciding what school I wanted to attend."
Though Hinton wanted to compete on the field at the highest level, he also wanted to work toward a degree that would impact his life well beyond the game of football.
"Two things that really stood out to me was that I wanted to go to school with great academics and great football," recalled Hinton. "When you look at a lot of schools, you got schools that are at the top of the top when it comes to academics but then they care barely fill up the stands on Saturdays. Then you've got schools that pack the stands every Saturday, but a degree from that institution doesn't really mean anything. So when you look at the University of Michigan, you pack the stadium every Saturday and when you graduate from the University you're set when it comes to the real world."
While his IQ is undoubtedly growing in the classroom at the University of Michigan, Hinton says his football IQ has also grown substantially during the off season as he prepares for year three in Ann Arbor - something he believes will pay dividends on the field this fall.
"I've grown the most with my IQ of the game," said Hinton. "Coming in freshman year, you're worried about the playbook, you worried about not messing up. As time goes on, as you get more comfortable with the playbook, as you gain more confidence, it's like, 'okay, yea I got this.'" So now you want to work on increasing your IQ - what's the offense going to do on 2nd and 10? What are they going to do on 'this' type of formation? What's the demeanor of the offensive line? Those are the things that really help you play faster, more confident and more loose. The worst thing is playing with a clogged mind. You want to play with a clear mind, so increasing my IQ has done dividends to my game."
As Hinton reflected on his first two years at Michigan, the big man in the middle said he doesn't regret his decision at all.
"It's been really good. I've been really developing as a football player, as a man, as a student here at the University of Michigan - I don't regret my decision one bit. You know, you have your ups and downs - freshman year and then COVID last year, which was crazy. So I'm just happy to have just a regular year, like I said with last year being so crazy with the COVID restrictions and things like that. Having this be my third year of experience, I'm just really excited and amped up about the season."