The Wolverine

2022 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 146 of 163

THE WOLVERINE 2022 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 145 Top Five Players 1. OL CESAR RUIZ Offensive linemen do not always get their due, but Ruiz was a no-brainer here. The pool of candidates was lessened due to the 2017 class' amount of attrition. Ruiz was ready to go right out of the box, appearing in 10 games during his freshman season with five starts at right guard. He slid seamlessly into the center job in 2018, starting all 13 games and garnering third-team All-Big Ten honors from the conference's coaches. Ruiz's best season came in 2019, where he started every game and was tabbed the best pass-blocking center in the nation by Pro Football Focus, allowing just eight pressures in 447 snaps and none over the last five games. He declared for the 2020 NFL Draft following his junior season and was selected No. 24 overall by the New Orleans Saints. 2. DE Kwity Paye His impact was felt more on the field than on the stat sheet, but that still made for one of the best stories of the recruiting cycle for the Rhode Island native. Paye played in nine games during his freshman season and contributed on special teams, finishing with 5 tackles and a sack. He broke out in a big way as a sophomore, appearing in all 13 games with four starts, a pair of sacks and 5 tackles for loss playing behind Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich while earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors from the media. His best year came in 2019, which included 12 starts, 50 tackles, 12.5 stops for loss, 6.5 sacks, 3 quarterback hurries and 1 fumble recovery. He was named second-team All-Big Ten by the coaches and third-team by the media. Paye was a team captain during the 2020 season and led the Wolverines with 4 tackles for loss and tied for the team high with 2 sacks. The Indianapolis Colts selected him with the No. 21 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. BY ANTHONY BROOME M ichigan's 2017 recruiting class was Jim Harbaugh's best from a rankings perspective, coming in at No. 4 in the land per the On3 Consensus. This was a few spots higher than the 2016 haul, which ranked sixth. But the 2017 group ultimately goes down as a disappointment. The Wolverines signed 30 prospects, but 18 of them never finished their college careers in Maize and Blue. Michigan signed seven top-100 prospects in the cycle but only two (wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones and offensive line- man Cesar Ruiz) rode things out in Ann Arbor. Quarterback Dylan McCaffrey also transferred, which made Harbaugh 0 for 2 in acquiring starting-caliber quarterbacks on the recruiting trail (Brandon Peters, 2016). Nico Collins rounded himself into a No. 1-caliber wideout. Offensive tackle Andrew Stueber, linebacker Josh Ross and safety Brad Hawkins developed into key pieces on last year's Big Ten Championship team. Ruiz and defensive end Kwity Paye worked themselves into first-round NFL Draft picks in 2020 and 2021, respectively. Two players from this class return in 2022 for sixth sea- sons in tight end Joel Honigford and punter Brad Robbins. Those who stayed went through a lot, in- cluding the 2-4 pandemic season in 2020. The ones that stuck around for 2021 were rewarded with a Big Ten title and the pro- gram's first trip to the College Football Play- off. UNMET EXPECTATIONS Michigan's 2017 Recruiting Class Was Jim Harbaugh's Highest Ranked, But Attrition Hindered Its Success PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of The Wolverine - 2022 Michigan Football Preview