Michigan Football: What You Need to Know About Wolverines LB Jake Ryan

Joel GreerCorrespondent IJune 15, 2012

Jake Ryan (90)
Jake Ryan (90)Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Even the best recruiters miss one on occasion.

Such was the case back in 2010 when linebacker Jake Ryan was quietly signed by the Wolverines. Michigan was the only Big Ten school to offer Ryan, who played his high school ball at Westlake St. Ignatius.

It's not like the major schools were unaware of the Cleveland football powerhouse. After all, St Ignatius won Ohio's D-1 state title during Ryan's junior season, and this past fall won the championship for the 11th time.

In fact, Ohio State signed one of Ryan's teammates but bypassed the up-and-coming Michigan star. An injury-riddled junior season may have kept the recruiters away, but Ryan had an outstanding senior year,  compiling 104 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, eight sacks, four pass breakups and two fumble recoveries.

Anyone glancing at his recruiting video had a pretty good idea Ryan would become a keeper.

After redshirting his freshman season in 2010, Ryan began to gain a following during Brady Hoke's first spring practice in 2011. Ryan impressed the coaching staff with his hard-hitting style, which was evidenced by the paint missing from his Michigan helmet.

The fans caught on during the spring game, when he intercepted a Devin Gardner pass and also pressured Denard Robinson.

It was also no surprise when Ryan became the opening day starter at SAM linebacker when Cam Gordon couldn't go because of a back injury.

"Jake never came off the field last year," said defensive coordinator Greg Mattison during a recent press conference. "He truly played almost every snap of every game."

While Ryan had a solid rookie campaign, he saved his best for last. Forced to play both defensive end and linebacker due to an injury to Will Heininger, Ryan responded with seven tackles and a sack in the Sugar Bowl win over Virginia Tech. He also tied the Bowl record with four tackles for loss.

This year will be different. Gordon is healthy once again and should compete for playing time. Senior Mike Jones and early enrollee Kaleb Ringer will provide depth.

Ryan, however, has a legitimate shot at earning All-Big Ten honors. Not bad for a second year player who is fortunate to be playing in the Big Ten.