With just two years of experience playing Big Ten football, Michigan Wolverines junior linebacker Jake Ryan is already regarded as one of the top defensive players in the conference. Ryan earned Big Ten all-freshman honors two seasons ago and became a second-team all-Big Ten selection in 2012.
Ryan has quickly become Michigan’s most feared defender and opposing offenses must now account for No. 47 prior to every snap they take. The 6’3″, 242-pound LB led the Wolverines in tackles, tackles for loss, sacks and forced fumbles in 2012. He uses his strength to consistently cause a ruckus in opposing backfields while also being fast enough to make spectacular plays in the open field.
Ryan has been doing all this damage, yet is only entering his redshirt junior season. He’s also got one heck of a defensive coordinator in Greg Mattison helping him grow. So, with that said, what does Ryan have in store for the Maize and Blue this season?
The Wolverines are heading into their third season under the lead of head coach Brady Hoke and have yet to claim a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game. They’ll be welcoming one of the top recruiting classes in the nation in 2013 and are primed to take their biggest step forward under the new regime.
Led by Ryan, Michigan’s defense has the ability to become the Big Ten’s best in 2013, but much of that will depend on the leadership he provides throughout the season. The rest of the unit tends to feed off of the energy and heavy hits that he brings game in and game out. When the offense finds itself in a rut, it’ll be up to Ryan and the defense to dig them out.
Truth be told, Ryan has the potential to become an All-American before he leaves Ann Arbor. He’s a leader that loves setting the tone on the gridiron and seemingly grows stronger as the game wears on. The speed, strength, instincts–it’s all there. The more experience he gets, the better he’ll become.
As good as Ryan is already, that’s kind of a scary thought.