Name: Cesar Ruiz
Weight: 319 lbs.
High school: Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy
Jersey number: #51
Last year: I ranked Ruiz #24 and said he would be a backup center/guard (LINK). He played in ten games with six starts at right guard.
TTB Rating: 99
Ruiz came in as the country’s #1 center recruit in the 2017 class, which sounds like a guy who should be able to be an immediate starter. But I did an analysis of #1 centers from previous classes (LINK), and it didn’t suggest greatness for year one at the center position. A lot of freshman centers end up playing guard or just being backups in year one. Michigan started fifth year senior Patrick Kugler at center, and the guard positions were manned by Ben Bredeson on the left side and Michael Onwenu on the right. Ruiz ended up passing Onwenu at right guard by the end of the season.
Now that Kugler has graduated, Ruiz has taken over the center position. Reports out of practice this spring were that he has really taken to the role, which was expected. The offensive line has reportedly taken significant strides forward, although I can’t remember an off-season where that hasn’t been the scuttlebutt – whether it turned out to be true or false. Ruiz was quarterback Shea Patterson’s center at IMG Academy, so they should have a good rapport already. Ruiz appears to be well on his way to a successful college career, and offensive line coach Ed Warinner has done a good job of developing linemen over the years. There are concerns about the tackle spots, but Ruiz and the guard positions should be pretty good.
Prediction: Starting center