State College, Pa. — One of the story lines heading into Michigan’s game at Penn State was the availability of junior linebacker Jake Ryan.
Ryan recently had been medically cleared coming off a remarkable recovery from a torn ACL in his right knee he suffered in late March during spring practice.
Michigan coach Brady Hoke, saying he wanted to be cautious and not bring Ryan back too soon, said after practices Thursday and Friday, Ryan felt good enough to play.
Ryan, one of four captains, appeared early in the Wolverines 43-40 four-overtime loss at Penn State and rotated in throughout the game. He finished with three tackles, including one for loss.
“It feels good,” Ryan said after the game when asked about the knee.
He wore a brace throughout the game.
Hoke had suggested during the week it would be a game-time decision regarding Ryan. During an MGoBlue.com video from Michigan’s walkthrough at Beaver Stadium, Hoke said Ryan would dress for the game but didn’t guarantee anything.
After the game, Hoke said that he felt fine about inserting Ryan, the team’s leading tackler last season, because he felt fine after practices this week.
“He had felt good all week,” Hoke said. “We tried to keep his play count down a little bit.”
But as Michigan gained one veteran Saturday, it also lost one in fifth-year senior Taylor Lewan, the All-American tackle. Lewan wobbled off the field late in the first half, and while on the bench being observer by his line coach Darryl Funk and a medical trainer, he angrily brushed them off and returned to the field.
Lewan left the field just before the end of the first half and did not immediately return with the team after halftime. He did emerge and was in uniform on the sideline but did not have his helmet.
“He should be all right,” Hoke said of Lewan.
When asked if it was potentially concussion-related, Hoke was unclear.
“I’m not real sure,” Hoke said.
Ryan, like Lewan, is a team captain. He said the bottom line in the loss is that the Wolverines didn’t execute and that needs to get fixed.
Otherwise, the message from the captains was clear.
“Just keep our heads up,” Ryan said. “We fought, but sometimes you lose. We didn’t take advantage of the opportunities we had. We need to keep our heads up and move on to next week.”