Bradenton, Fla.--One of the nation’s top center prospects, four-star Cesar Ruiz was already very familiar with the Auburn Tigers after taking an unofficial visit to the Plains over the summer with his teammates at IMG Academy.
Over the weekend he and teammate Tre McKitty had an opportunity to see what a college football weekend is like on the Auburn campus when the Tigers took on the Arkansas Razorbacks. Watching Coach Gus Malzahn’s team roll up 543 rushing yards in a 56-3 blowout win, Ruiz said the game exceeded his expectations in a big way.
““I had a great time,” Ruiz said. ‘The game wasn’t what I was expecting, but I’m glad I saw that.
““Really, a 17th-ranked team and they were ranked 21, you’re expecting a close game. Auburn was toting the ball and they handled them.”
That may have been a surprise for most of the people watching the game, but Ruiz said the Auburn coaches felt confident going into the contest and told him so. The offense showed him why and it started early in the game he said.
“Actually, Coach (Rhett) Lashlee came up to me and Tre and he said ‘we’ll see you later celebrating in the locker room’.
“There was at the point where I looked at the scoreboard and the stats in the second quarter and it was already 200-something rushing yards and I thought it was a typo. Then I started thinking about it and said ‘man they have been running the ball pretty good’.”
With a strong bond already built with Coach Herb Hand dating to his days back at Penn State, Ruiz said the Tigers are very much in the hunt for him following his official visit. With Florida, Michigan and North Carolina the other schools he’s considering with his final official visit scheduled for Oklahoma, Ruiz plans to commit on Dec. 18th but could delay that until the Under Armour All-American Game.
As for what he likes about the Tigers, Ruiz said it starts with his bond with the coaches but after being on the campus once again Auburn is very much in the hunt.
“What I like most about Auburn, there’s a bunch of things really,” Ruiz said. “I’ve got a good relationship with the coaching staff and that’s probably my main thing really with Auburn.
“It helped Auburn,” he added of the trip. “It definitely helped Auburn a lot. The only time I was there was with my team, so I got to get the actual feel for it and everything I wanted to see.”