Cesar Ruiz continued his journey towards his decision this weekend, when Scout's No. 2 center took an official visit to Florida. His trip to Gainesville is his third official this fall, and it was an opportunity to see the Gators in action against Missouri.
"It was a great game," said the four-star 2017 prospect. "The offensive line played great that was really what I was focusing on. They played really great. They could have limited some offsides penalties but obviously that didn't affect the game. They still came out with a great 'W.' It was a good game to watch, it was an exciting game."
Although the Gators offensive line has seen its fair share of criticism, Ruiz only sees the potential.
"The way people talk about [the line], they make it seem like the offensive line is horrible, but they are really not. They are just young," he said. "Everything takes time...Being that I am an early enrollee, I feel like if I came here I'll be a little ahead of the game."
Ruiz is one of most highly sought out recruit in the country. The IMG standout holds offers from some of the nations' top programs including: Alabama, Florida, Auburn, Michigan, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Florida State, LSU, Miami, Texas A&M and Penn State just to name a few. Although there is plenty of competition to land Ruiz, there was one coach that never failed to check in, Florida assistant and offensive line coach, Mike Summers.
"Coach Summers never stopped recruiting me," he said. "33 offers but 25 schools gave up. Coach Summers was still there and kept pushing, so I said I was going to give Florida a chance."
This visit was an opportunity for Ruiz to see Summers and the rest of the Gators staff alone without the rest of his teammates.
"It's been really good, [Florida head] coach Mac [Jim McElwain] is a cool guy. Talked to coach Summers a lot, and got to know a little bit about coach summers...and just the entire staff was just welcoming me."
Summers "was telling me I would fit in well with the players," Ruiz added. "Within five minutes we were already laughing and joking around. They told me I would fit in great and have the opportunity to come in and play early."
"I'm just building a quick connection with the offensive linemen. They are some really cool guys."
The players all echoed the staff's sentiment and had a simple message to Ruiz, 'we need you.'
The Florida linemen said "we are going to need a center next year. You are the best center out there so why not come here. We need you and you definitely fit in great," Ruiz recounted.
Watching the Gators in action and seeing Taylor take the field as just a freshman answered a big question for Ruiz.
"It shows that they are not scared to play young people, young offensive lineman," he said. "If you are ready they will put you in the game. Thats what I like, a school that isn't scared to play young people."
According to the 6-foot-3, 321-pounder, the trip to Gainesville helped Florida make its mark.
"It definitely helped Florida's chances a lot. I've been here with my team before but I've never really got the actual aspect of it. Never really got to be here by myself and talked to the coaches one-on-one before. It's just great getting the experience and getting comfortable with the players."
Although the Gators made a good impression, many feel Michigan is the school to beat for the Scout 100 player. However, Ruiz has never stated a favoritism.
"I'm not sure if I said Michigan is my favorite. I can see why people say that," he said. "The fans show a lot of love and if I tweet something about Michigan, the fans are always on and it blows it up a bit more. I don't really have a leader right now.
"I'm just enjoying the recruiting process right now," he added.
"Auburn next week. Oklahoma is December 3rd, but I'm going to try to move it up so I have more time to think about my decision before I make my deadline."
He plans to make his decision on Dec. 18 in memory for his father, who passed away when he was seven years old. The 18th would have been his birthday.
"He never got to see me play football before," he said. "I feel like I should dedicate that special moment to him."
If Dec 18 does not work out, Ruiz says he might announce at the Under Armour Game. Before he makes his announcement, however, he will continue to look into each of his finalists. Although a New Jersey native and currently a Florida resident, don't expect geography to play a factor in his decision.
"I will go play in Hawaii," he said. "I moved away from home when I was 15 years old, 16, and went to IMG, and I adjusted to that pretty quickly. I didn't get home sick or anything like that. The distance doesn't really matter to me. because whatever university I'm going to be at my mom is going to be able to watch the game on TV."
Instead of distance Ruiz is looking for a place he can call home.
"It is basically what my heart says. It is where I feel comfortable; where I feel like I belong; where I feel like I'm home."