The Michigan defense suffered a major blow on Tuesday when All-Big Ten linebacker Jake Ryan suffered a torn ACL that will keep him out indefinitely.
Ryan had just finished an outstanding redshirt sophomore campaign, where he led the Wolverines' with 88 tackles, including 16 for loss, 4.5 sacks and four forced fumbles.
Ryan's injury has been felt by the rest of his Maize and Blue teammates—especially redshirt senior Cameron Gordon—who was with Ryan when he got injured and is slated to replace him in the starting lineup.
"I'm not sure," said Gordon, who was in the same drill with Ryan. "I mean, it kind of seemed kind of subtle to me though. But I feel like when it happened, it was one of those freak accidents like any other injury.
"I have encouraged him. Of course, getting hurt is bad thing. But like any person you have to learn from it and get well from it while you're having this time off."
Now, Gordon is expected to replace Ryan in the lineup. A starter two years earlier, he's had injuries of his own with a bad back and torn meniscus, but he is full healthy now and is ready to fill Ryan's role on defense.
"It's kind of bittersweet to have one of my teammates go down, but just like any other position—someone has to step up and fill that void," Gordon said.
Junior cornerback Blake Countess knows Ryan's injury all too well, After all, he suffered a ACL injury in last season's lost to Alabama that caused him to miss his entire sophomore season.
"It's never a positive thing when somebody goes down," Countess said. "When it happened to me I was shocked. So, I am guessing he is pretty shocked right now. But it has happened and it's in the past now. He has attack his rehab and get it fixed and get it better and come back.
"Jake knows I am going to be here for him. He's already come to me for a couple of questions. So, we're teammates and that's love and I am going to do whatever I can to be with him throughout this process."
One of Ryan's closest friends on the team is senior wide receiver Drew Dilieo. And Dileo has talked with Ryan about the injury and says the star linebacker is in good spirits.
"I think he is doing pretty well from a mental stand point," Dileo said. "I think anyone who has that type of injury would be a little bummed out, I guess to say the least. Jake is a strong person, strong mentally and strong willing. So he is doing pretty well."
The loss of Ryan took a big hit to the defensive front and has cause some emotional let down on the team said senior defensive tackle Jibreel Black.
"I mean cause that's your brother. Just like anybody's brother, if your brother goes down—the emotion of the practice goes down," Black said. "But as seniors and as a leader, you got to be able to bring that enthusiasm and emotion back up."
While Countess is almost fully recovered from his injury, he has no idea when Ryan will return.
"Possibly," said Countess, on Ryan coming back early. "But I don't see out athletic trainer speeding anybody or pushing anybody to more than they can. So will see—everybody is different."
Ryan's teammates show their support
The Michigan Insider Top Stories
Michigan to face FSU in Orange BowlNo. 6 Michigan to take on No. 11 Florida State in the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 30.
The Michigan Insider11:42 AM
Michigan left out of CFP, drops to No. 6Michigan left out of the College Football Playoff, drops to No. 6 in final rankings.
The Michigan Insider9:15 AM
Has a new 'dark horse' emerged for Thomas?Has a new "dark horse" emerged in Detroit (Mich.) King's Ambry Thomas' recruitment?
The Michigan InsiderYesterday at 3:56 PM
WATCH: Beilein talks win over Kennesaw StateWatch as Michigan head coach John Beilein discusses the Wolverines' 82-55 victory over Kennesaw State on Saturday.
The Michigan InsiderYesterday at 12:33 PM