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Ryan Glasgow savors final season at Michigan

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan defensive lineman Ryan Glasgow (96), a former walk-on, is healthy after 2015 season cut short due to pectoral injury.

Ann Arbor — Michigan fifth-year senior defensive lineman Ryan Glasgow is fairly certain he wouldn’t be here now, about to embark on his final year, if older brother Graham had not paved the way.

Graham Glasgow played his final year at center for the Wolverines last season and was drafted by the Detroit Lions. The Glasgow brothers arrived at Michigan as walk-ons and worked their way to starting roles, although there were times they didn’t think they could ever advance that far.

Ryan Glasgow, who is recovered from a pectoral muscle injury that required surgery late last season, said it took a lot of time before he realized how much playing football at Michigan meant to him.

“Before my redshirt freshman year I was probably just happy to be on the field,” Glasgow said Friday. “I was happy I had a chance to play in the Big House. But now, I think I attack it way more, because I have the experience.

“The light probably went on probably halfway through my redshirt sophomore year where it’s like, I’m not just here to take up space. I’m not here just to be a little plug on the defensive line. I’m here to make plays and make our defense better. I’m not a space eater. I’m here to elevate the play of our defense, and I think that’s when the light switched.”

Graham Glasgow often describes himself as a “zero-star” lineman out of high school. He made his way to Michigan, and Ryan eventually followed.

“I’m so proud of Graham for having trailblazed the path for us,” Glasgow said. “I always think if I had to go first on my own, I don’t know what would have happened. Graham always had my back when I first got here, it was awesome. I try to do the same thing for (younger brother and sophomore safety) Jordan every day if he needs someone to talk to, if he needs somebody to pick him up after a tough practice, I’m there.

“That’s what Graham did for me. I can’t say that if I came first I would have done the same thing Graham did, because it’s a tough path. So I’m really appreciative of that, and I hope Jordan is appreciative of me, I don’t really know.”

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He said his parents deserve all the credit for helping the older Glasgow boys tackle the challenges of transitioning to college and juggling football.

“Sometimes our dad believed in both of us and my mom when we didn’t believe in ourselves at certain points here when I was like, ‘I don’t know if I’m cut out for this,’ ” Glasgow said. “I remember 20 minutes into my first practice here, I thought, ‘What did I get myself into? I don’t know if this is for me.’ We owe a lot to our parents. They cheered us on when we thought we’d never play here, when we wanted to stop and we wanted to quit.”

Glasgow arrived to the Friday media session without a front tooth. The tooth was lost when he was 11 years old after a bike accident involving Jordan, and the replacement was knocked out against last year during a walk-through in camp.

“I caught a pretty hard blow to it, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what just happened? This thing is going to fall out soon,’ ” Glasgow said. “I had a bracket put on to get me through the season.”

He is prepping for a dental implant, but what he will go through for that doesn’t come close to what he endured in the final third of last season when the pec injury sidelined him the final four games, including the bowl.

Although he had no control over the situation, Glasgow felt he had let down his teammates. Against up-tempo teams, a defensive line needs depth, and he wasn’t there to provide that.

“I really missed playing football,” he said. “Mostly I missed the camaraderie. When you’re hurt, you’re not playing, you have to sit out, you don’t get to play with your friends — these guys are your best friends, your teammates, guys you work all year with to achieve your goals. Not being a part of that really hurts sometimes when you’re out.”

It took time for him to get the rust off, but he is 100 percent in camp.

“I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life,” he said.

The injury gave Glasgow time to reflect and reassess heading into his final collegiate season.

“It makes you think, like, this game does end,” Glasgow said. “And having it taken it away so abruptly, if I were a true senior, that could have been my last game against Rutgers. It makes you take every day and cherish it especially when you get to play football and not take the days for granted.”

achengelis@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @chengelis