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Eating up playmakers and opportunities, Aidan Hutchinson eyes transformative Orange Bowl win for Michigan

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Surrounded by his family in the front row of Lucas Oil Stadium earlier this month, Chris Hutchison was incredulous. It was there, celebrating a Big Ten championship with his son, that it hit him: None of this should be happening.

“This is his whole career. This is his legacy,” Chris said of Michigan senior defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, who had just been named the game’s MVP. “I honestly didn’t think this team had it in them. I didn’t think we were going to be here even two weeks ago.”

Michigan being Michigan under Jim Harbaugh to that point, Chris had a point.

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Aidan’s career had run parallel with Michigan’s on-field performance over the last few seasons: sometimes good but never great. An ankle injury slowed Aidan earlier in his career. Michigan winning 10 games, which it has now done four times in Harbaugh’s seven seasons, had progressively less meaning.

But college football is all about evolution. Teenagers enter the physical boot camp that is big-time ball. In some form, they exit as changed men, sometimes as champions.


Aidan Hutchinson’s transformation has his name among the top of the sport, perhaps even the top of his family. That second assertion, though, may be a stretch. His mother, Melissa, is a veteran of 15 years as a fashion model who is also an artist and photographer. Chris, who starred for the Wolverines from 1989-92, is an emergency room doctor who actually delivered Aidan 21 years ago.

Sisters Mia and Aria are also accomplished: Mia as a professional photographer, Aria as a yoga instructor attempting to be admitted to medical school. All four have helped shaped the complete son, brother and All-American, a 265-pound wrecking ball who practices yoga and meditation.

“You ain’t seen nothing yet,” Melissa said. “There’s a lot more to Aidan than people know.”

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We’ve seen plenty so far. The projected No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft was a 6-foot-1, 155-pound high school freshman. He was bullied as a youngster for participating in competitive dance, a skill that translates to football and helped him develop the balance and skill needed to reach the quarterback.

Then Aidan did some bullying himself. He rolls into the College Football Playoff semifinal at the Orange Bowl as the physical and mental center of the Wolverines. His 14 sacks broke his dad’s single-season school record. He had no fear wearing his father’s number (97), playing the same position, chasing the same dreams. Both became All-Americans.

“It hit me in high school,” said Hutchinson, who added 70 pounds while at Divine Child High School in Dearborn, Michigan. “I knew I was going to be a D-end. I knew I wanted to wear 97. I always wanted to be there, to be in the position I am today breaking [my father’s] records, winning Big Ten championships, being an All-American, things that he did. It’s so cool to see all this come full circle.”

The difference between the two? His father has five Big Ten championship rings from his time as an edge terror.

“He looked at my five rings and thought, ‘I’m not ever going to get one of those,’” Chris recalled. “Until [the Big Ten Championship Game], I didn’t think it was ever going to happen.”

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So we’ve heard.

As for that validation, it’s all there now. A week prior to that Big Ten title win over Iowa, Michigan was a touchdown-underdog hosting Ohio State. You don’t have to be reminded the Buckeyes had won the last eight meetings. The Wolverines broke the streak with a resounding 15-point win that announced this Michigan coached by this Harbaugh was different … this time.

In that game, Hutchinson broke his dad’s single-season record with three sacks, giving him 14 on the campaign for Michigan.

“It was like, ‘Who’s 97?’ He can play,” said Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud, the victim of those sacks.

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All of it was eventually enough for get Hutchinson an invite to New York as the second defender under Harbaugh to become a Heisman Trophy finalist (Jabrill Peppers).

“I know Charles [Woodson] kind of called his shot: ‘If Aidan gets three sacks, he’s going to New York.’ What’d I do? I got three sacks, and I’m in New York,” Hutchinson said. “I thought it was pretty cool Charles called his shot. It was pretty bad-ass.”


Hutchinson is a unique blend of confidence, humility, articulation, marketability and accomplishment. Who’s 97? He’s special, really special.

He starts each day with a cold shower “because it wakes me up”. In spurning the NFL and returning for his senior season, he gambled on himself.  

Harbaugh recounted a story from January when his prized D-end went to the strength coaches and demanded of them, “Make sure you wear me out. Get everything out of me.”

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“There is an all-you-can eat buffet in here,” they responded.

“He ate it up,” Harbaugh said.

“When I was evaluating my rush plan for this year, I really believed that no one was going to be able to block me because I have the power, I have the speed. I have the whole package,” Hutchinson said.  

Following the shootings in Oxford, Michigan, it was Hutchinson who suggested the team dedicate the game Tate Myre, a 16-year-old football player at the high school was killed while reportedly confronting the gunman.

In a serendipitous moment inspired by Hutchinson, the Wolverines wore a Myre No. 42 patch on their jerseys, then scored 42 points in beating Iowa.

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“Tate was a warrior,” Harbaugh said. “A football player, a wrestler. The best athlete in the school. Could have easily made it out. People were running away from the fire. He was running into it.”

Hutchinson is the son of a father who traces his roots back to medieval England. His mother’s ancestry goes back to Latvia and Switzerland. Michigan wasn’t automatic as a destination. Chris made his son take visits to Notre Dame, Purdue, Wisconsin and even Ohio State. When Alabama showed interest late in the recruiting process, Chris reminded his son that he had already committed to Michigan.

“He said, ‘Dad, Alabama is here,’” Chris recalled. “I looked at him, and he looked back. He said, ‘I know, I know.’ It’s one of those life lessons: ‘I’m committing, and that’s what it means even though this flashy thing comes into town.’”

Two weeks after that performance against Ohio State, Hutchinson was indeed in New York finishing second in the Heisman voting to Alabama QB Bryce Young. That was the highest finish by a defensive lineman since Pittsburgh’s Hugh Green also finished second in 1980. Notre Dame’s Manti Te’o was the last defender to finish that high in 2012.

“Offensive players can take over the game,” Hutchinson said. “That’s worded in their position like quarterbacks. But defensive players are not necessarily graded by sacks and stats. I could have a one-sack game and play my best ball. … I could have three sacks and not play my best. It’s offensive players who are put in a position sometimes more to be game-changers.

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“If you’re a game-changer as a defensive player, that’s pretty big.”

Love for Hutchinson gushed forward after that Iowa game. Teammates on the podium accepting the conference trophy chanted, “Hutch for Heis-man.” Offensive lineman Andrew Vastardis said Hutchinson, “showed up every week. He’s been a game-changer. Every day in practice, every day in meetings. More committed than any guy I’ve been around.”

With a multi-layered game, Hutchinson appears to be that force who can take over a contest defensively. His 15 pressures against Ohio State were the most against a Power Five program in 2021, per Pro Football Focus.

Depending on the play, he can speed rush, bull rush or beat the tackle off the hop. Throw in fellow defensive end David Ojabo (11 sacks), and No. 2 Michigan goes against No. 3 Georgia with one of the most lethal combined forces off the edge in school history.

“There’s been a lot of comparisons to the Watts and the Bosas,” Chris said. “I don’t think he fits into any of those molds. I think he’s a little bit of a lot of those people, somewhere between T.J. and J.J. [Watt], a little bit of [Joey] Bosa mixed in there. I think he’s got his own mold.”

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It took a loyal son and Wolverine to put this season in perspective. The 12-win campaign is only the third in school history. (Ohio State has 10 such seasons, all since 2002.) The Big Ten title was the first for Michigan since 2004. Harbaugh, an underachiever at his alma mater at times in the past, emerged as the national coach of the year.

“It’s been a little bit tense at Michigan in previous years,” Hutchinson said. “Now that we’re back, it’s pretty relaxed a little bit. … I feel like college football is better when Michigan is up there near the top.”



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Trea Turner Has Historic Stats In His Dodgers Tenure

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(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

 

Trea Turner, the shortstop of the Los Angeles Dodgers, is about to become a very rich man when the World Series ends.

The 29-year-old star, one of the main actors in the Washington Nationals’ 2019 World Series win, will become a free agent after the Fall Classic, and he is putting up some insane numbers.

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His season performance has been magnificent, but if we extend the search for the last 162 games (to include portions of 2021 and 2022), we will find some historically great numbers.

“Trea Turner has played 162 games with the Dodgers: 208 H, 110 R, 28 HR, 47 2B, 109 RBI, 31 SB, 142 wRC+, 7.1 fWAR, .318/.359/.524/.883. He’s the 5th player in MLB history to have a 162-game stretch with those first 6 categories,” Dodgers insider Blake Harris tweeted.

The Dodgers acquired Turner before last year’s deadline, in the same deal that netted them ace Max Scherzer.

 

A True Star

Ever since coming over from Washington, he has been a true star for the Blues.

Turner represents the rare breed of player that can do absolutely anything on the field: he can hit for a high average, he has power that results in both doubles and home runs, he has blazing speed, and plays a fantastic shortstop.

He is the complete package for a contending team, and he is not even 30, so he should have several years left of his prime.

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The thing is that he will be very, very expensive, perhaps commanding more than $200 million.

The player has expressed his desire to stay in Los Angeles, and the Dodgers would very much love if that happened.

They seem like a functional marriage, but once he enters the market, everyone will be able to make a play.

The bidding will start soon.

The post Trea Turner Has Historic Stats In His Dodgers Tenure appeared first on The Cold Wire.

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Dolphins owner Stephen Ross changes succession plan, will hand franchise to his daughter, per report

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Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross has had a change of heart regarding his succession plan for the NFL franchise. The 82-year-old has notified the league of his intentions to change his successor of the Dolphins to his daughter, Jennifer Ross, according to the Sports Business Journal. The process has not yet been completed, but Ross has reportedly made it clear to NFL executives of his desire to pass the team on to his children. Before this development, Dolphins vice chairman Bruce Beal would have had the opportunity to ascend to be the club’s owner. 

Of course, both Ross and Beal are no strangers to seeing their names in headlines over the last few months. Back on Aug. 2, the two were suspended and fined by the NFL for “tampering violations of unprecedented scope and severity.” 

That punishment stemmed from the club pursuing both Tom Brady and Sean Payton. The league’s findings noted that the organization had “impermissible communications” with Brady on two different occasions. In August 2019, Beal had contact with Brady while the quarterback was still a member of the Patriots. Later, both Beal and Ross were “active participants” in discussions with Brady following the 2021 season while the future Hall of Famer was still with the Buccaneers

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Beal was suspended from league meetings for the remainder of the 2022 season and fined $500k. Meanwhile, Ross was suspended through Oct. 17, 2022, is not allowed to attend league meetings until 2023, removed from all league committees indefinitely, and fined $1.5 million. The Dolphins were also docked a 2023 first-round pick and a third-rounder in 2024. 

The Sports Business Journal reports that Ross deciding to have his daughter succeed him is not related to the latest punishment by the league and possibly even predates the investigation entirely. While that may be the case, a transition to Jennifer Ross, who already has an ownership stake in the team, may be the cleaner approach. 

In 2016, the NFL approved a plan that would allow Beal the first right to buy the Dolphins in the event of Ross’ death or sale. However, owners would have to vote again to allow him to take control of the team, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to learn that these tampering charges could’ve been a major speed bump. 

In 2008, Ross bought 50% of the Dolphins franchise and later purchased an additional 45% in January 2009 at a total value of $1.1 billion. 

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Red Sox Insider Shares How The Team Misses Andrew Benintendi

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(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

 

Before the 2021 season, the Boston Red Sox made a trade.

They sent starting outfielder Andrew Benintendi to the Kansas City Royals in February in a deal that also involved the New York Mets.

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They obtained outfielder Franchy Cordero and pitcher Josh Winckowski, plus three players to be named later.

If you are a Red Sox fan or if you have seen Cordero hit (or field), you probably don’t need us to tell you that making that deal was a mistake.

Red Sox insider Pete Abraham summed up the horrendous trade in his most recent tweet.

“Andrew Benintendi returns to Fenway Park tonight for the first time since 2020. He’s been worth 4.7 bWAR since being traded. The players the Sox got back in return: minus-0.6,” he said, via Twitter.

Benintendi went on to have a very good season for the rebuilding Royals in 2021, with a .766 OPS and 1.8 Wins Above Replacement.

He has been even better in 2022, splitting time with the Royals and his new team: the Red Sox’s arch rival.

 

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Red Sox Fans Will Now Have To Watch Benintendi In Pinstripes

Yes: the New York Yankees acquired Benintendi before the deadline in exchange for prospects.

In 2022, ‘Beni’ has delivered 2.1 WAR.

Winckowski has been serviceable at times, but Cordero has not.

As a result, the Red Sox’s return for that deal has been a net negative; so far at least.

It’s probably one of those transactions that general manager Chaim Bloom would probably want to revert if given the chance.

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It happens sometimes.

However, saying that the Benintendi trade didn’t hurt the Red Sox’s long-term outlook would be lying.

If that weren’t enough, Red Sox fans will have to see Benintendi, a player that helped the team win the 2018 World Series, wearing the Yankees uniform.

The post Red Sox Insider Shares How The Team Misses Andrew Benintendi appeared first on The Cold Wire.





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