The Wolverine

February 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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58 THE WOLVERINE FEBRUARY 2017   COMMITMENT PROFILE Few prep players have as many or as strong of ties to a certain school as Cesar Ruiz does to Michigan. Ruiz, the top-rated center and No. 41 overall player nationally according to, is originally from Camden, N.J., but played his last two years of high school at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The 6-3, 313-pounder an- nounced his commitment to the Wolverines Dec. 19 and couldn't be more excited about reuniting with friends in Ann Arbor. "It's the right fit for me," Ruiz said. "They've been a longtime favorite for most of my recruitment going all the way back to my sopho- more year when I almost committed during my visit. "That's just home for me. It feels great to be committed to Michigan, and it feels like a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders. "My brother Ron Johnson is there. Brad Hawkins is on his way there. Ron, Brad and I are real close. I'm comfortable with a bunch of the guys up there. I'm cool with Rashan Gary, Kareem Walker, Mike Dwumfour and all those guys. They did a really good job making me feel comfortable there." All of the previously mentioned players hail from New Jersey and, while that connection was a major factor in Ruiz's choice, it wasn't the only thing that drew him to Michigan. His relationship with the coaches and the future he sees for himself at U-M also helped seal the deal. "I think the coaches will do a really good job developing me," Ruiz said. "Coach [Tim] Drevno has a really good history of developing offensive linemen. The way the offensive line dominated this year was impressive." It wasn't just about what Ruiz would get from the coaches on the field, it was also how they made him feel throughout the process off the field. He knew he was a priority for them, and that was a big factor in him becoming a Wolverine. "They put in so much ef- fort when it came to recruit- ing me," Ruiz said. "Coach Drevno, Coach [Michael] Switzer, all of the graduate assistant O-line coaches — everybody from the staff. And it wasn't just like they were bombarding me with text message — they were texting me like a friend would. "I was able to build a re- lationship with them really, really fast. That made my decision a lot easier." Mid-Atlantic analyst Adam Friedman has been watching Ruiz since his early days in Camden and has witnessed him grow into one of the best in- terior offensive linemen in the country. "Ruiz is a really good fit on the offensive line being built at Michigan," Friedman said. "He's developed a lot over the past few years. He's become a much better pass blocker. His lateral quickness and patience have really developed. "He's always been a good run blocker. He has that toughness and tenacity that coaches love, and he has that in spades. He's a major piece of this recruiting class, and it's not a surprise that he committed to Michi- gan. He's a very solid get for them." As an early enrollee, Ruiz is al- ready on campus, and he'll have a chance to learn the system into the spring and could push for playing time next fall. As a senior at IMG Academy, Ruiz and the Ascenders finished the 2016 season 11-0 and ranked No. 3 in the nation by USA Today, but because IMG is not a full member of the Flor- ida High School Athletic Associa- tion it is not required to abide by the same rules as most schools in Florida. Therefore, Ruiz and his teammates at IMG cannot compete for a state title. Similarly, IMG Academy athletes are often not included in postseason awards or honors lists for the state. However, Ruiz was selected to play in the Under Armour All-American Game and performed well all week in Orlando, Fla., leading up to the game. — Brandon Brown FILM EVALUATION Strengths: Carlos Ruiz is stout, strong and perfectly molded for the center position. He's a smart player and has no issue leading as evidences by his actions during the week of the Under Armour All-American Game. He's a rare, true center prospect but also has great size and athleticism, which could translate to guard at the next level. Areas Of Improvement: It's really tough to identify a weakness in Ruiz's game. He can struggle at times with smaller, speedier interior linemen, but even in those situations he often matches their athleticism. He'll just have to adjust to the variety of styles he'll see in the Big Ten. Michigan Player Comparison: The best comparison for Ruiz is former Michi- gan All-American center Rod Payne. Ruiz is much bigger than Payne was coming out of high school, but in terms of being stocky and strong in the middle of the line, they have that in common. Payne was also billed as a very intelligent player, and Ruiz has earned a similar reputation after starting at center for two seasons at IMG Academy. — Analysis from Ruiz, who played in the Under Armour All-America Game, is listed as the nation's No. 1 center and No. 41 overall player by PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM/NICK LUCERO Nation's Top Center Carlos Ruiz Feels At Home In Ann Arbor

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