Weight: 242 lbs.
High school: Westlake (OH) St. Ignatius
Class: Redshirt sophomore
Jersey number: #90
Last year: I ranked Ryan #27 and said he would be the backup SAM with 40 tackles and 2 sacks. He started eleven games at the position, making 37 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 2 fumble recoveries.
Ryan probably had the biggest breakout season of any defender in 2011. As I hinted at in last year's countdown, he's the type of kid who's just always around the ball. In the opener against WMU, he hit the quarterback and caused the interception that was returned 94 yards for a touchdown by Brandon Herron. Against San Diego State, he recovered two fumbles. And in his most explosive game, the Sugar Bowl vs. Virginia Tech, Ryan made 7 tackles, 1 sack, and 4 tackles for loss, including a tackle of running back David Wilson 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Ryan wasn't perfect; he lost outside contain at times and wasn't great in pass coverage, but he was pretty good for a redshirt freshman.
This season he will likely continue to hold off Cam Gordon for the SAM linebacker job. Ryan has put on about twelve pounds in the offseason and looks considerably bigger. He played some snaps at defensive end in pass rush situations, and that role will probably expand with the unknown future of weakside end Frank Clark, who will likely face a suspension or worse for his alleged role in stealing a computer. Currently, Ryan and Gordon are the only two SAMs, so an injury to either one could force the coaches to shift another linebacker to the strong side. Ryan is going to see lots of playing time this year, and he's going to be rushing the quarterback from every angle possible. Not only will he be a better player in 2012; he should be more consistent.
Prediction: Starting SAM linebacker; 45 tackles, 5 sacks