Ryan still aiming for October return

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Jake Ryan is confident about this now, even as his knee is still recovering and he hasn’t been hitting. Heck, he’s still a few months out from the earliest possible date for his return.

Yes, the Michigan linebacker tore his ACL in March, which usually means a long recovery process and a decent chance the player’s following season is done. Not Ryan, though. He remains insistent he will be back by October.

That’s what his doctors have told him. That’s his goal. So he’s sticking with it.

“That’s legitimate,” he said, chatting with the media for the first time since his injury.

The ACL tore on a cut during spring practice. Immediately, he knew he felt something rip. He had never had this type of injury before, but something clearly was wrong. He never thought he wouldn’t have a junior season, though. Ryan became one of the top linebackers in the Big Ten last season, making 88 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.

He saw what other players have done and how they returned from similar injuries. Like his teammate Fitzgerald Toussaint did after his broken leg, he looked to the recovery time and then dominance of Adrian Peterson last season as inspiration.

If he could do it, why couldn’t Ryan.

“It was just me putting my mind to it and doing all that I can to do it,” Ryan said. “Yeah, there was always that possibility that I can come back and that I want to come back. That’s still my goal.”

The other reason for Ryan’s goal is he doesn’t have a redshirt year to play with. Because he was redshirted as a freshman for non-injury reasons, if he didn’t play this season or ends up not on the field, he would have only one more year remaining at Michigan regardless of scenario.

While this won’t make him return faster than he is ready, it is another reason for him to play this season instead of sitting out the year. He insists, though, that setting a goal to return this season -- by midseason -- doesn’t add any pressure to his rehabilitation process, which already has him running.

“That’s my goal right now,” Ryan said. “There’s no pressure on me. I’m not going to push anything.”