Cam Gordon saw action in all 13 games last season and made 17 tackles and three tackles for loss. (John T. Greilick / Detroit News)
Ann Arbor — Michigan players say linebacker Jake Ryan, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Tuesday's practice, is doing well emotionally as he faces what is expected to be a lengthy recovery.
Ryan led the team in tackles last season with 88 and also had four forced fumbles. He won the team award as the Wolverines' best linebacker.
Several players met with reporters before Thursday's practice.
"He's dealing with it pretty well from a mental standpoint," said receiver Drew Dileo, one of Ryan's closest friends. "Anyone who has that type of injury would be kind of a little bummed out to say the least, but Jake's a strong person and strong mentally and strong-willed, so he's doing pretty well."
Ryan has not yet had surgery, according to a U-M spokesperson.
Cornerback Blake Countess, who continues recovering from the season-ending knee injury he suffered in the opener last fall, said Ryan has already asked him several questions regarding the injury and recovery.
"When it happened to me I was shocked, so I'm guessing he's pretty shocked right now," said Countess, who added he just finished paperwork to submit for a medical redshirt. "But it happened, it's in the past, now he has to attack his rehab, get better and get back."
Countess said he has not rushed his recovery because the injury happened in the season opener. Michigan is in the midst of spring football, and the season opens Aug. 31 against Central Michigan. Recovery times from ACL surgery vary.
Fifth-year senior Cam Gordon said he feels confident he can step in for Ryan.
"During the last part of the season I stepped in and got a few snaps, so it's still a new position, but I feel like the guy for the job," said Gordon, who, when asked how Ryan's injury happened, described it as a "subtle" incident and a "freak accident."
Jibreel Black said there was an emotional letdown at practice Tuesday after the injury, but the senior leaders stepped up.
"That's your brother," Black said. "If your brother goes down, the emotion of the practice, it goes down. But as seniors and as a leader you've got to be able to bring that enthusiasm, that emotion back up to par to where it was. As a senior group we did a good job with that, because I know Jake wouldn't want us to dwell on that — he'd want us to get better."