National champions, Olympic gold medalists, All-Americans and a former NU Chairman of the Board comprise stellar class
Widely recognized as one of the top defensive backs in school history, Eric Hutchinson earned first team All-America honors at free safety in 1971. He is the only safety in NU history to garner first-team All-America kudos. In addition, Hutchinson was tabbed a two-time first-team All-Big Ten selection in 1970 and 1971, when the Wildcats recorded back-to-back six-win seasons in conference play.
Hutchinson was the leader of a defensive backfield that was often referred to as the nation's "best secondary." He helped Northwestern lead the Big Ten in total defense in 1970 by recording a then-school-record six interceptions. Hutchinson closed his three-year career with 10 interceptions, which still ranks as the fifth highest figure in Wildcat history.
A crafty pass defender, Hutchinson was equally adept at stopping the run, which put him in the elite category for safeties. As a junior in 1970, Hutchinson and his defensive teammates forced a group of opposing quarterbacks (that included Notre Dame's Joe Theismann, Ohio State's Rex Kern, Purdue's Gary Danielson, UCLA's Dennis Dummit and SMU's Chuck Hixon) into a combined pass completion percentage of .324.
One of two team captains his senior season, Hutchinson's teams went a combined 15-8 in Big Ten play from 1969 through 1971. Hutchinson and the Wildcats closed his final year in Evanston with back-to-back wins over No. 16 Ohio State and No. 19 Michigan State in 1971.
Hutchinson, an Academic All-Big Ten selection, was a seventh-round draft pick of the Houston Oilers. He is one of four defensive backs name to NU's all-century team (1882-1981) by the Chicago Tribune.