Cesar Ruiz (image via Scout)
Name: Cesar Ruiz
Weight: 315 lbs.
High school: Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy
Position: Center/offensive guard
Jersey number: #51
Last year: Ruiz was a senior in high school.
TTB Rating: 99
Michigan started recruiting Ruiz when he was an underclassman teammate of Ron Johnson and Brad Hawkins at Camden (NJ) Camden. For his junior and senior seasons, Ruiz transferred to IMG Academy and got some high-level coaching. He looked raw at center when he was in tenth grade (surprise!), but he improved by leaps and bounds when put into the atmosphere at IMG. Throughout the recruiting process, he was the #1 center in the nation, and Michigan led most of the way. He flirted with other schools, but the choice always seemed likely to be the Wolverines.
After enrolling early in January, we got a good look and a fair amount of information about the prognosis for Ruiz as a freshman. Reports were glowing about his readiness and versatility, since he doubles his value with the ability to play offensive guard. The coaches have been working him out at both center and right guard, where he is pushing presumptive starters Patrick Kugler and Michael Onwenu, respectively. Physically, he looked ready to play in the spring game, but he was late to react to a couple blitzes that hurt his offense. Things move quicker in college, even if you were playing elite teams as part of an elite program in high school. There are always concerns when you have a freshman offensive lineman playing significant minutes, and it’s likely that Ruiz will have to step in for some good sized stretches this fall. After all, what are the chances that all three of Michigan’s interior linemen stay healthy for the whole season? I think Ruiz will handle himself well for a freshman, but I did a piece on what the #1 centers have done in the past, and it’s not great (LINK). Expectations shouldn’t be sky-high right now, but the kid can play.
Prediction: Backup center/guard