Mason & Starr

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Two Michigan natives were at the top of the list to win Defensive Rookie of the Year this year, Sauce Gardner and Aidan Hutchison. Sauce Gardner a native of Detroit, was named to the NFL’s first-team All-Pro team for his performance as a rookie, intercepting two passes, defending 20 passes and recording 75 tackles for a Jets team that finished 7-10 and ranked fourth in the league in scoring defense. Aidan Hutchinson, a native of Plymouth and the stand out Detroit Lions’ defensive end, finished the season with 52 total tackles, 9.5 sacks, and 3 interceptions. While the Lions went 9-8 and finished with their first winning record since 2017, they also allowed the most yards and tied for the third most points in the NFL. These were two of the best rookies defensive players in this years draft and their dominance showed throughout the season. Ultimately the award went to Sauce Gardner.


As part of his acceptance speech, Gardner thanked his family, his coaches from little league, high school (Detroit King), college (Cincinnati), and his current team the New York Jets, but left a special shout out for last saying, “Last but not least, I’ve got to thank Detroit. The eastside of Detroit, man. Seven Mile, it was hard growing up, man, it really was. The neighborhood that I stayed in, a lot of violence going on. A lot of adversity, but that’s what it took to get here.” Gardner, finished with 242 points and received 46 first-place votes as well as four second-place votes. Hutchinson received three first-place votes, 35 second-place votes, and nine third-place votes, meaning that he was completely overlooked on three ballots.

Congratulations to Sauce Gardner on winning the Defensive ROY award making the city of Detroit proud. The state of Michigan is very proud of both Hutchinson and Gardner on making a huge impact in the NFL in Just their first season. We wish much success to both of these young men.