Weight: 236 lbs.
High school: Cleveland (OH) St. Ignatius
Class: Redshirt senior
Jersey number: #47
Last year: I ranked Ryan #24 and said he would be the starting SAM when he returned from injury with 35 tackles and 3 sacks. He started five games and made 30 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, and 1 pass breakup.
I went into 2013 calling Ryan Michigan's best defensive player. He was Second Team all-conference in 2012, but a springtime torn ACL delayed his debut last season. He returned to play a part-time role in the Penn State game in mid-October, but like Whoopi Goldberg standing in for Patrick Swayze, it just wasn't the same. Ryan played in eight games, but was only deemed capable of starting five. Cameron Gordon did an okay job in his stead, but the front seven lacked a playmaker except for an occasional burst from Frank Clark. Ryan still managed to be named Michigan's top linebacker, but those statistics aren't super impressive. We knew it was going to be a disappointing season for him because of the injury, and . . . well . . . we weren't disappointed. In our disappointment.
To start this season, Ryan will be 1.5 years removed from his ACL tear and should have few lingering effects. He has bumped over to middle linebacker in Michigan's 4-3 Over, previously having been a SAM in the Under defense. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison has taken over coaching the linebackers, and the staff wants Ryan to be able to play sideline to sideline. Word out of practice is that he has taken to the switch, and I thought Ryan was more of a prototypical middle linebacker when he came out of high school. I'm excited to see what he can do in the middle. At times in the past, he has done an excellent job of blitzing on the interior, and those opportunities should become more frequent this season. The flip side of my excitement is that Michigan has done an excellent job of recruiting linebackers over the past few seasons, and there are capable replacements on the roster. Senior Desmond Morgan has been a three-year starter - though he seems to be getting benched in favor of junior Joe Bolden - and sophomore Ben Gedeon showed flashes of brilliance late last year. Ryan should have a good year himself, but the defense would not be totally destroyed if he were lost for a stretch.
Prediction: Starting middle linebacker; 75 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 3 sacks