Late-blooming linebacker Jake Ryan happy to be a Michigan football recruit
Jake Ryan was weighing scholarship offers from Ball State, Toledo and a number of other Mid-American Conference schools when Michigan “popped up out of nowhere” on the recruiting trail.
An outside linebacker from Cleveland St. Ignatius, Ryan isn’t sure how he got on Michigan’s radar, though rumor has it a St. Ig alum and former Wolverine like Mike or Pat Massey or Trent Zenkewicz turned coaches his way.
“I kind of want to find that out,” Ryan said. “I definitely heard the rumor, but I don’t know who it is. I think (Michigan defensive line coach Bruce) Tall knows and he just won’t tell me.”
St. Ignatius coach Chuck Kyle said Michigan had been familiar with Ryan for a while. The Wolverines recruited Ryan’s linebacker teammate Scott McVey, who committed to Ohio State, but only got serious about Ryan after seeing him up close in December.
“You know how recruiting goes,” Kyle said. “They made offers out there, some accepted, some didn’t, some say yes and some say no. So Bruce was coming just because he knew there was going to be a couple spots, and he had the name. And when the kid walked in, Bruce goes, ‘Whoa, wait a minute now.’
“I brought Jake down and it was like, ‘OK, you passed the eye test.’”
A late bloomer like his father, Tim, who played wide receiver at Wake Forest, and his brother, Connor, who plays receiver at Bowling Green, Ryan grew about two inches and added 20 pounds since last summer, when he was considered a MAC-level recruit.
Now 6-foot-3, 230 pounds and built like his grandfather, Francis Sweeney, who played defensive line in the CFL, Ryan turned in a senior season to match his big-time frame.
He had eight sacks and 24 tackles for loss, and led St. Ignatius to an undefeated regular season after McVey suffered a torn labrum in August.
Ryan dealt with his own injury, a dislocated right thumb in the regular-season finale that required surgery. He sat out one game, but returned for St. Ignatius’ playoff loss to Cleveland Glenville with three pins and a cast on his right hand.
“Jake was a guy that he would knock down a wall,” Kyle said. “He just wants to hit you and come at you, so it’s like, OK, you know how things are. This is a kid who’s gifted.”
Ryan visited Michigan on the same mid-January weekend as fellow commitments Devin Gardner, Antonio Kinnard, Conelius Jones and Davion Rogers. Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez officially offered Ryan a scholarship that Sunday morning, and 24 hours later he ended his whirlwind recruitment.
“Playing in the Big Ten is like a dream come true,” Ryan said. “Just everything about my whole entire visit was awesome. Everything fit.”
Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.