- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Jake Ryan replacement project is under way at Michigan.
Ryan, the team's top defender in 2012, left a significant hole at the strongside linebacker spot after suffering a torn ACL last week in practice. The Wolverines expect Cam Gordon to step in for Ryan, but they need more bodies at the position.
That's why junior Brennen Beyer has been moved from defensive end to outside linebacker, defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said Tuesday. Beyer played linebacker in 2011 but moved to rush end role last season and started eight games, recording 19 tackles and a forced fumble.
Mattison said Beyer will play linebacker only until Ryan returns to the field. The coach is pleased with Beyer's performance in his first few practices in his new/old spot.
Mattison also sounds confident in Gordon, who started all 13 games in 2010 at safety and linebacker but has had a reduced role in each of the past two seasons. He recorded three tackles for loss and a pass breakup last fall.
"Right now for the first time, and it was starting to happen last year, he's really getting confidence and he can kind of look in the mirror and say, 'I am an outside linebacker,'" Mattison told reporters Tuesday in Ann Arbor. "It's not, 'I wonder if I can do this.' He knows he can do it, now he has to get better and better at it."
Beyer's move also makes sense because Michigan has much better depth at rush end with Frank Clark, Mario Ojemudia and Taco Charlton. Clark made four starts last season and had nine tackles for loss and two sacks. Ojemudia recorded 2.5 tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble in nine games as a reserve, while Charlton is a true freshman.