Emotional Jake Ryan consoled by Michigan teammates
"He’s like a Tootsie Pop,” defensive lineman Craig Roh said last year. “No matter how many times you talk to him, you really never know what you’re going to get until you get to the chocolatey center.”
Ryan is goofy. And he's revered, both for his playmaking ability and the personality with which he does it.
Now, that playmaking ability will be shelved for a few months after tearing his ACL in practice Tuesday.
"I talked to him the other day. Of course, he's not in the best spirits," senior defensive lineman Jibreel Black said before Thursday's practice at Glick Fieldhouse. "He's getting back up to the regular old Jake. Dealing with an injury like that is going to take some time, but that's what we're here for, as brothers, to support him."
Ryan is hurting, and it's not just his ACL. He is coming of an exemplary season in which he led Michigan in tackles (88), finished third in the Big Ten in tackles for loss (16) and led the Big Ten in forced fumbles (four).
Now it's hitting him just how long it's going to take to get back to that level.
If anyone has an idea about what Ryan is about to face, it's junior cornerback Blake Countess, who tore his ACL in the season opener last year and missed the 2012 campaign.
"I'm always the optimistic guy, but when that happens, you kind of think, 'Why me?'" Countess said. "You never think about those things until it actually happens. That's where the shock happens.
"But after it's happened, you have to realize what's happened to you, get it fixed and get better every day."
ACL injuries are tricky because each is different, as are the recoveries. So Ryan's rehab will be different than Countess'.
But the emotions are similar, and that is where Countess is counseling Michigan's star linebacker.
"When it happened to me, I was shocked. So I'm guessing he's pretty shocked right now," Countess said. "But it's happened, it's in the past now and he has to attack his rehab and get it fixed.
"Jake knows I'm going to be here for him. He's already come to me with a couple questions. We're teammates, that's love and I'm going to do whatever I can to be with him throughout this process."
Ryan already is asking about how long his knee is going to hurt, and how long he's going to be on crutches.
"Little things like that, just to kind of gauge how he can speed some things up, maybe take some things slower," Countess said.
Countess never pushed his recovery because there was never a chance he could return in time last season. Ryan's recovery could be a little different, because there's a chance he could still play late in the year if he heals quickly.
Until then, senior Cam Gordon is expected to rise to the top spot at strong-side linebacker.
"When you have injuries like that, it's very sad," Black said. "But it's the nature of the game. So as a team, we're a brotherhood, we come together as brothers and we move from there."
-- Download the Michigan football on MLive app for iPhone and Android
-- Download the Michigan basketball on MLive app for iPhone and Android
-- Follow Kyle Meinke and Nick Baumgardner on Twitter
-- Like MLive's Michigan Wolverines Facebook page