Michigan star Jake Ryan tore his ACL in spring practice on Tuesday night and will be out indefinitely, the NCAA team announced on Wednesday.
The junior linebacker was the team’s best defensive playmaker last season and his loss will be a tremendous blow to the Wolverines’ chances of winning their first Big Ten Title since 2004.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke was disheartened by the news of Ryan’s injury but believes the Westlake, Ohio native will tackle his rehabilitation with the same ferocity he shows opposing quarterbacks.
“You always hate when anyone gets injured and unfortunately we’ve dealt with our share of injuries in the last 12 months,” Hoke said. “We will support Jake to make sure he has everything he needs to get through this. I know he will attack his rehabilitation just like he does everything else.”
Ryan led the Wolverines with 88 tackles, 16 of which were for losses, and had 4.5 sacks last year. He was named to the All-Big Ten second team by the media and was poised for another huge season.
Michigan will no doubt feel the loss of its best defensive player but also has an embarrassment of riches at the linebacker position that could help soften the blow.
It is not yet known how long Ryan will be sidelined for but it remains unlikely that he will be back in action during the 2013 season.
Michigan surprised many with an 11-2 season that culminated in a Sugar Bowl triumph in Hoke’s first year at the helm in 2011 but the team failed to meet expectations in 2012 and had to be content with an 8-5 record following its loss to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl.
The Michigan star’s ACL tear will thrust some youngsters into the limelight with sophmores Joe Bolden and James Ross set to play a bigger role on defense for the Wolverines.