Spring ball is all fun and games until somebody gets hurt. Unfortunately for the Michigan Wolverines, they are the latest team to get bitten by the injury bug. Brett McMurphy of ESPN has reported that linebacker Jake Ryan has torn his ACL and will miss the rest of the spring, if not the entire season.
Michigan LB Jake Ryan, Wolverines' leading tackler last year, out indefinitely w/torn ACL, suffered Tuesday— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) March 20, 2013
For a Michigan defense that finished second in the Big Ten last season, this is absolutely devastating news. The Wolverines have made huge strides under defensive coordinator Greg Mattison over the last couple of seasons and were expected to take yet another step with great linebacker play.
How big is this loss to the Michigan defense?
Ryan was not only the leader of this group, but he was arguably the best defensive player on the roster that helped make things so successful. He led the team with 88 tackles, racked up five sacks and produced 16.5 tackles for loss, while breaking up three passes as well.
His efforts earned him All-Big Ten Conference second-team honors and put himself on the map as one of the best defensive players in the entire country.
Now Michigan will have to turn elsewhere, not just for the production he provided on the field, but for the leadership he brought to the team. For a defense that lost five starters, experience was going to be relied on heavily to help ease in some of the younger guys who were going to step in.
With Ryan now out of the picture, it is likely going to be a battle between senior Cameron Gordon and redshirt-freshman Kaleb Ringer for the starting position. Both of which will have big shoes to fill in replacing the talented linebacker.
Hopefully Ryan will make a speedy recovery and get back on the field sooner than later.