The Michigan Wolverines have suffered a devastating blow, announcing that linebacker Jake Ryan is out indefinitely with a torn ACL. Ryan suffered the injury during Tuesday's practice. A timetable for his return was not set, and it's unclear if Ryan will be available for Michigan during the 2013 college football season. Ryan was Michigan's best defender in 2012. He racked up 88 tackles and 16.5 tackles for loss while also notching five sacks and forcing five fumbles.
More reaction to the Ryan injury can be found from our SB Nation Michigan site, Maize N Brew.
Ryan was penciled into the strongside linebacker spot, but now it looks as if Michigan will have to find a capable candidate among its reserves. The Wolverines already lost middle linebacker Kenny Demens, so that leaves junior Desmond Morgan (41 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss) as the only returning starter. Morgan could stay at weakside or move over to the middle, leaving two spots open for a host of capable candidates.
Joe Bolden (31 tackles, four TFL) is a strong middle linebacker candidate, and sophomore James Ross (36 tackles, 2.5 TFL) is quite capable of taking over on the weakside. Maize N Brew did an analysis of the SAM linebackers on Michigan's team and concluded it was the strongest unit on the squad, singling out senior Cameron Gordon (17 tackles, three TFL) and true freshman Mike McCray as potential backup plans to Bolden.
There are only three players who can truly fit the position, but the group still ranges from talented and experienced to talented and inexperienced. Jake Ryan is Jake Ryan: plug him in and let him take care of anything that comes to the outside. Cameron Gordon would probably be one of the better strong side linebackers in the conference if he were to start, and Mike McCray was one of the most sought-after outside linebackers in his class. Talent isn't a problem here.