Michigan’s hoping to rebound from a disappointing season defensively in 2013 and if 2014 is going to be any better the Wolverines will need strong performances from senior defensive end Frank Clark and senior linebacker Jake Ryan.
Monday, the Michigan seniors were added to the Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List, handed out annually to the best defensive player in college football.
Ryan, a captain in 2013, recorded 30 tackles including 4.5 for loss in eight games at outside linebacker. Ryan missed the first five games of the season still recovering from a torn ACL suffered the previous spring.
Now 2014, Ryan makes the move to middle linebacker for Michigan in hopes of regaining the production showcased in 2012 managing 88 tackles including 16 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks as an All-Big Ten performer.
2013 was supposed to be a big year for defensive end Frank Clark, predicting in the pre-season that he would finish with 10 sacks, Clark fell short of that registering just 4.5 sacks to go with 43 tackles and 12 tackles for loss starting in all 13 games.
Clark was a second team All-Big ten selection a year ago and will be counted on greatly by a defense that struggled to get to the quarterback in 2013.
Ryan and Clark are among 10 Big Ten players on the watch list. Michigan is one of three schools in the Big Ten conference to have multiple players named to the list.
Semifinalists for the Bednarik Award will be announced on Nov. 3 before three finalists are selected on Nov. 24. The winner of the award will be announced on Dec. 11.