Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy center Cesar Ruiz committed to Michigan today. He chose the Wolverines over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Rutgers, and Stanford, among others.
He’s 6’3″, 315 lbs. and claims a 5.26 forty.
ESPN: 4-star, 84 grade, #1 C, #69 overall
Rivals: 4-star, #1 C, #77 overall
Scout: 4-star, #2 C, #100 overall
247 Sports: 4-star, 95 grade, #1 C, #66 overall
Hit the jump for more on Ruiz’s commitment to Michigan.
Ruiz was a high school teammate of 2016 defensive end Ron Johnson, Jr. and 2017 wide receiver Brad Hawkins, Jr. (originally a 2016 prospect) when he went to Camden (NJ) Camden. He was offered after his sophomore season but then transferred to IMG Academy prior to his junior year. That seemed to be a bad omen for Michigan, since he was no longer under the regular influence of his Ann Arbor-bound teammates. Michigan had gone after several IMG Academy prospects in the past, but none chose Michigan. However, Ruiz continuously placed the Wolverines at the top – or tied at the top – when he talked about likely destinations. By the day before his announcement, all 36 of the Crystal Ball predictions on 247 Sports were in favor of Michigan being the pick.
The first thing I noticed when I looked at Ruiz’s highlights at IMG Academy as a junior was that his shotgun snaps improved significantly from when he was a sophomore at Camden. Snapping can be a learned skill, and we know that because a lot of high school tight ends, tackles, and guards have moved to center in college. But still, shotgun snaps were an issue, and now they have improved in both speed and accuracy. Ruiz also does a very good job of staying low out of his stance, and he moves his feet well to down block or reach block defenders to either side of him. IMG Academy plays a rather difficult schedule, so he’s playing some of the best competition in the country, and he’s having success. As a pass blocker, he anchors well without getting driven into the backfield, and his low center of gravity makes him a good match for any really technical nose tackles who try to use leverage.
If I were to make any corrections, I would start with his physique. He moved better as a sophomore than as a senior, and I think some of that comes from some extra weight he packed on between his junior and senior year. That can be cleaned up with a better diet and strength and conditioning program. I also think he needs to work on his hand placement, because sometimes his elbows get a little too wide and he can be grabby. The last thing I would work on is his pass set, which I think can be a half-step too deep at times. He needs to stone nose tackles a little quicker before they can gain momentum. Those are all things that can be fixed rather easily.
Overall, Ruiz is a very good prospect who should transition well to the college game. He has the size, speed, and experience at the position to play pretty early. Michigan has a returning starter at center in senior Mason Cole, but changes will be necessary on the offensive line due to three starters graduating. If Cole needs to change positions, Ruiz should the center most ready to step in at Michigan since . . . a very long time ago. If he doesn’t start next season, he should be the heir apparent for 2018. He does plan to enroll early, so that should aid his development.
Michigan now has 23 commitments in the 2017 class, including five linemen. Ruiz is the only one of those linemen slated for center. He is also Michigan’s first ever commitment from IMG Academy, a school that has produced a lot of elite talent in recent years, including 2017 linebacker Jordan Anthony, who will be announcing his decision on Thursday, probably for Michigan. I wrote a fairly lengthy piece on IMG Academy last spring (LINK), and it should be required reading if you’re unfamiliar with the place. Michigan will be facing an IMG Academy product and former recruit on December 30 in the Orange Bowl when Deondre Francois lines up under center for the Florida State Seminoles.
TTB Rating: 99 (ratings explanation)
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