Ringer suffered a knee injury as a senior in high school and missed a large chunk of his final prep season, presumably because of that injury. He enrolled early in January 2012 and played in the spring game but ended up having surgery on the knee, which knocked him out of the regular season and caused him to take a redshirt. As a thickly built linebacker - who in my opinion lacked something in the quickness department - Ringer moved from the weakside to the middle linebacker position for spring practices here in 2013, and he did play a little bit in the spring game. It's unclear at this point why he is leaving the program, but junior Desmond Morgan and sophomore James Ross seem to have locked down the middle and weakside linebacker positions, respectively. At best, Ringer probably could have been a special teamer and the third string MIKE for the upcoming year, behind Morgan and sophomore Joe Bolden.
In perhaps my most accurate TTB Rating so far, I updated Ringer's rating just before National Signing Day 2012 to reflect a 39 for Ringer, which indicates a "Below average backup or special teams contributor." You can see in the comments on that thread that I had an inkling about the potential for Ringer not to last four years at Michigan. He is the first casualty from the 2012 class. Before dropping him to a 39, I had initially rated Ringer as a 64, so I was not expecting him to be a major player in Michigan's lineup.
The loss of Ringer doesn't really hurt Michigan for the 2013 season, since he was not expected to be in the two-deep. Linebackers often make decent special teams players because they have a good combination of speed and physicality, but that was probably his best chance to get on the field this year. However, this does further impact the numbers at linebacker, which also took a hit when redshirt junior Jake Ryan tore his ACL in spring practice. A unit that was expected to be rather deep this season is now down two men. Beyond the 2013 season, Ringer could very well have been stuck behind Morgan in 2014 and Bolden for another season after that, so we might be looking at 2016 before he would have had a serious shot at playing time; by then he would have been a fifth year senior. In a slightly odd development, Michigan brought in four linebackers in 2012 (Ross, Bolden, Ringer, and Royce Jenkins-Stone), and all three remaining players will be true sophomores this year.
Michigan needed to get down to the scholarship limit of 85 prior to the season, and this puts them at the limit. With fifteen seniors scheduled to play their final season in 2013, Michigan is looking at a 2014 recruiting class of 15; that number will surely increase, and word is that the coaches are already recruiting for a 16-man class. Perhaps they already know of another player or two who are on the way out, and there have already been rumors of a third player to be on his way. You may remember that I mentioned a few months ago that I had heard rumors of a few players who might depart - well, Ringer and Ken Wilkins were two of the names that heard. We'll see if the third one develops.
Anyway, Ringer's departure may explain the fairly recent offer to East St. Louis (IL) East St. Louis linebacker Kyron Watson. Some insiders have suggested that Michigan would take Clairton (PA) Thomas Jefferson SAM prospect Chase Winovich or middle linebacker prospect Watson, but I believe the Wolverines might take both if they want to come. The coaches clearly offered Watson with the knowledge that they needed a SAM, so the plan is either a) take a SAM and a MIKE or b) move Michael Ferns III to SAM if Watson commits. Winovich will visit this coming weekend, and Watson plans to visit the following weekend.