ANN ARBOR—With every strenuous, therapeutic rep during daily rehab sessions, training staff looking on, Michigan redshirt junior linebacker Jake Ryan pushes through the sweat falling from his face and the negative timeline most are given since tearing his ACL during spring practice.
For some, a scheduled return to the football field that reads “six months” wouldn’t be so bad. For Ryan, that still wasn’t fast enough.
“You never get back before six months from an ACL,” Ryan said. “So that was my goal and that’s what I’m sticking with.”
Still on track for an October return, Ryan’s recovery has tested his patience, fighting to jump over each hurdle throughout the process. Normally seen as an uphill climb, Ryan says getting through the operating room was huge, coupled with the continued support of everyone around him.
“Low point for me probably was just having the surgery,” he said. “I mean, that’s probably always something to get through. So that, and knowing I had the great support I had is always a great thing. You love it cause you’ve got three trainers, three great trainers, and they did all they could to get me back.
“I did everything that the team did and then when I had time off I would come and do rehab,” Ryan added. “They were tough, but I got through it.”
Starting all 13 games for Michigan in 2012, Ryan recorded a team-high, 88 tackles, including 16 tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks. Likely to miss at least the first four games of the 2013 season, senior linebacker Cameron Gordon and junior Brennen Beyer are both vying for the open spot and extra snaps in Ryan’s absence.
“I think we’re doing well,” Ryan said. “Cam’s doing well, Brennen Beyer is competing for the spot. I think it’s going well.”
Looking to stay as involved as possible despite being on the sideline, Ryan is passing on as much knowledge and understanding of the defense to teammates at the position, including redshirt freshman Allen Gant, who made the transition from safety this off-season.
“Mental reps is always a good thing,” Ryan said. “Just going through it for two years, I kind of know the defense, know what to expect, so, my goal right now is trying to help out the younger kids and do what I can to instill things on them.”
Whenever No. 47 makes it back onto the field for Michigan this fall, the Ohio native and unorthodox playmaker, as he’s come to be known, will have a long list of supporters to thank throughout the past six months.
“My family, my parents have always been there,” Ryan said. “My buddy Chris has always been texting me and stuff like that, seeing if I can get back. Just my whole team has been there. Coach Hoke, all the coaches -- it’s everyone.”
To watch video of Ryan from media day, press play below.