Aidan Hutchinson placed second in Heisman voting after a historic season. Becca Mahon/Daily. Buy this photo.

He would have been just the second defensive player to win the Heisman Trophy. 

Instead, Michigan senior edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson will have to live with a second-place finish for college football’s premier individual award, finishing behind Alabama quarterback Bryce Young. Hutchinson was the Wolverines’ first Heisman finalist since Jabrill Peppers in 2016. 

Still, the defeat will do little to minimize the buzz surrounding Hutchinson’s historic season. After recording 58 tackles and 14 sacks — including three against Ohio State — through 13 games, Hutchinson has been almost universally projected as a top-five pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Even when not making tackles, he’s disrupted the pocket on countless passing downs and affected virtually every run on his side of the line. 

“I have to lead by example,” Hutchinson said on ESPN’s College GameDay Saturday morning. “It’s something I had to do week in, week out. We’re sitting here 12-1, playing in the Playoff. We’ve got an incredible opportunity in front of us and we’re trying to keep this train rolling.”

Hutchinson won’t go home without any hardware, either. On Wednesday, he was awarded the Rotary Lombardi Award, given annually to college football’s best lineman — offensive or defensive. 

Hutchinson’s second-place finish capped off a major week of awards for the Wolverines, whose 11-1 regular-season record, Big Ten Championship and College Football Playoff berth came as a surprise for a program that went 2-4 in 2020. In light of that comeback, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was named coach of the year by the Associated Press — the first Wolverines head coach to win that award. 

Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, too, was recognized on Tuesday as the winner of the Broyles Award, granted annually to the top assistant coach in the country. Working with Harbaugh, Gattis has helped develop an offense that ranks 10th in rushing, 13th in scoring and 18th in total yards.

Senior kicker Jake Moody rounds out the list of award winners for Michigan, earning the Lou Groza Award as the nation’s top kicker. Moody has connected on 22 of 24 field goals and all 56 extra points this year, ranking him second in Wolverines history for field goals made in a single season. 

Michigan has been one of the biggest surprises in the country this season. 

As evidenced by the breadth of individual awards, that stemmed from vast growth throughout the starting lineup, and Hutchinson’s invitation to New York for the Heisman ceremony has been the premier statement of them all.