Paired with our Exit Interview series, Loss Impact looks at departed seniors who were starters/major contributors during their time at Michigan.
Ryan Van Bergen never considered going anywhere other than Michigan. He didn't really visit anywhere else. He didn't even mull it over all that much. When the Wolverines offered, Van Bergen was heading from the west side of Michigan to Ann Arbor.
It worked out for Michigan, too. Van Bergen finished his career with 134 tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, 10 pass breakups, four fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.
What Michigan loses: From a media perspective, its best and most insightful quote on a consistent basis -- and he told WolverineNation that he was being tame in the majority of his interviews, which probably means whatever NFL team gets him is in for full notebooks. On the field, it loses an intelligent, consistent, athletic defensive lineman who paired with Mike Martin to form one of the better defensive line duos in the nation. Van Bergen's improved ability helped draw double teams away from Martin, and their chemistry together allowed defensive coordinator Greg Mattison to be more aggressive in his blitz calls. Van Bergen never received the publicity Martin did, but he was equally important to the Michigan defense's turnaround.
Who replaces him: Much like Martin on the line and David Molk on the offensive line, replacing Van Bergen isn't going to be easy. Don't be surprised if Craig Roh or Jibreel Black moves over to his side of the field to replace him -- especially since the opposite defensive/rush end slot will be loaded with Roh, Black, Frank Clark and potentially Jake Ryan. So there is room for someone to put on some weight and move over. Nathan Brink, who was listed on Michigan's depth chart last season as his backup, will also compete there.
Loss impact: A talented, and perhaps experienced, player will replace Van Bergen, but his leadership and athleticism will be difficult to replace. Losing Van Bergen isn't the level of losing Molk, but combined with the departures of Martin and Will Heininger on the defensive line, Brady Hoke, Mattison and defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery will have a busy spring trying to figure out how to piece together the defensive line in 2012.