All the Smart people know to beware Michigan’s Aidan Hutchinson

Andrew Smart’s favorite Michigan player is a fire-breathing beast.

Just watch that video snippet from November’s game against Ohio State, a game Aidan Hutchinson had pretty much owned all afternoon. As he’s setting up wide preparing to rush the quarterback on fourth down, Hutchinson is at the same time waving over Buckeyes tackle Thayer Munford. C’mon, come get some more, he’s messaging. Andrew Smart’s favorite Wolverine also can be brash.

And then the ball’s snapped and the real soul-taking begins. Hutchinson doesn’t just get by Munford, he runs directly through him on a bull rush, the tackle going backside-over-teakettle, tire tracks practically stenciled on his jersey.

When Hutchinson later explained the sequence on the “Green Light” podcast with former NFL player Chris Long, he was no less brazen: “They’re setting up to slide to me. I’m like, ‘Let’s go, (expletive)! Send it all at me. I want it all.’

“I took my lane and man, that was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life. I don’t think anything will ever top that. Me waving him over and then putting him on his (expletive).”

This heaping handful is Andrew’s daddy’s problem now.

As Kirby Smart told the story earlier this month, as soon as the College Football Playoff pairings were determined (Georgia-Michigan, Friday night, as you may have heard), his 9-year-old son Andrew had his scouting report all prepared. And he just went on and on about the Wolverines rush end. The kids love this guy.

Hutchinson appreciates the support, whatever the source. “My dad told me about that, and we were both laughing,” Hutchinson said during Michigan’s press Zoom call Wednesday. “It’s crazy that the head coach’s son of the team you’re about to play is a very big fan of you. It’s a blessing. It’s really cool.”

There was some chatter earlier this season about an interior defensive lineman crashing the Heisman Trophy finalists’ party. But Georgia’s Jordan Davis didn’t make that cut. However, one defender did, and it would require someone with real flair to hang with the usual glamor guys on offense. That would be Hutchinson, he of a team-record 14 sacks this season, three of them against Ohio State, a rivalry game turned into his personal star vehicle.

Get this, then, on successive games now, Georgia will have had to contend with the Heisman winner (Alabama quarterback Bryce Young) and the runner-up – Hutchinson. The first didn’t go so well.

Hutchinson is the right man for the right time for Michigan. If anyone should symbolize the Wolverines’ return to prominence, it’s a rightful heir to the kingdom. Hutchinson’s father, Chris, was an All-American defensive lineman for the Wolverines in the mid-1990s. And Dad freely acknowledges that the boy has passed him by.

Hutchinson bet on himself, holding off entry into the NFL draft, returning for his senior season, epitomizing the rallying cry of iconic Michigan coach Bo Schembechler: “Those who stay will be champions.” Now he’s mentioned as a possible overall No. 1 pick in the next draft.

Michigan defensive coordinator Mike MacDonald was hesitant to credit any single player for forming the character of his unit, but Hutchinson’s savagely relentless style is hard to understate.

“We want to have shocking effort when you watch the tape. We want teams to watch tapes on Sunday morning and know they’re going to be in for a 60-minute battle. Aidan is definitely the guy who spearheads that type of personality,” MacDonald said.

When teammate David Ojabo wanted to make himself into a more marketable defender – to, as he said, learn “the work ethic of a first-rounder” – he attached himself to Hutchinson in the offseason. It worked. They now make up a formidable pair.

As for the attitude, nothing about that should catch Georgia by surprise. Just don’t let it worm into your helmet and through your skull. Tackle Jamaree Sayler obviously had seen the Ohio State clip and committed it to memory, given how easily he recalled the jersey number of the Buckeyes lineman who was victimized when asked about the play. He sounded prepared.

“I don’t care about the way he plays. Obviously, it worked really well for him in that clip, and it was a great clip against a good player. (No.) 75 from Ohio State is a good player,” he said.

Like his son Andrew, Kirby Smart seems to see a lot to like about Hutchinson. He clearly was referencing one particular Wolverine when he talked about the defining characteristic of the Michigan defense. “The first thing you have to do is match their intensity,” he said. “Regardless of the talent, the strain, the desire, the want-to leaks through on the film.”

Perhaps they should all get together and hug it out sometime.

“Maybe I’ll meet his son after the game,” Hutchinson said, chuckling.

That might depend upon the mood of all parties at the end.