August 4, 2014

Ryan is fully focused forward

Jake Ryan gets a new view this season, moving to middle linebacker as a fifth-year senior. He insists both he and the Michigan defense will be more ready to go in 2014 than they were in 2014.

As much as he wanted to pick up right where he left off following rehabilitation of an anterior cruciate ligament tear in the spring, Ryan discovered it's not that easy. Physically, he might have felt ready to go, but doubts can linger when a joint has betrayed you once.

"It was a mental thing," Ryan said. "If I'm going to make that cut, you didn't know if it was going to happen again. I think it's going to be great. I feel 100 percent."

That's about all you're going to hear from Ryan regarding 2013. Over the course of a 10-minute interview, he noted "it's a whole different year" or "it's a whole different team" at least a half-dozen times. He's in a new position, and he's convinced Michigan's defense will be in one as well.

As for his new location, Ryan embraces being at the center of the action for Greg Mattison's crew.

"I love it," he said. "I'm more in the mix of things. It's different, but I do like it a lot. Coach Mattison has definitely been doing a great job."

In addition to crediting Mattison, Ryan gives a nod to junior linebacker Joe Bolden, who has given him plenty of assistance in learning the middle linebacker spot.

"Joe Bolden is a really smart football player," Ryan said. "He's been at the position for a while. I was really lucky to have him there. If I had a question, he was always there, and he knew what he was talking about.

"Joe is a heck of a player. He knows what's coming before the play. He knows what he needs to do every single play."

Ryan knows Michigan's defense will be doing a lot of things differently. Although he won't get into the changes in depth, he acknowledges there's something to the talk of upgrades toward aggressiveness from the secondary on down.

And last year? Forget about it. Ryan insists he has.

"It's a whole different team," he said. "It's a whole different atmosphere, a whole different animal. I'm just excited about what we're going to do this year."

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