The hit was something else.
Michigan defensive end Aidan Hutchinson — all 6-foot-5, 269 pounds of him — left his feet and came crashing down on the chin and face mask of Alabama quarterback Mac Jones. Trailing 13-7 in the first half, Jones laid on the ground for a split second as he absorbed the punishing blow. Teammates cringed on the sideline. A flag was thrown. It was roughing the passer. Alabama picked up a first down, but what about Jones?
He had waited more than three years for this moment, backing up Tua Tagovailoa and Jalen Hurts before him. Tagovailoa had suffered a season-ending hip injury, forcing Jones into the starting lineup two games earlier. Against No. 14 Michigan in the Citrus Bowl, heading into an offseason in which the top dual-threat quarterback in the country would be joining the program, this was a crucial time for Jones to