For much of the spring the school that sat atop Cesar Ruiz's leaderboard was the University of Michigan. Then the summer rolled round and a more open mindset came with it. At that point he began saying that all twelve schools remaining on the IMG Academy lineman’s list were even. Then came The Opening in Beaverton, Oregon this week and a report that said Alabama is now his leader?
“I didn’t say Alabama is my leader, but you know how that goes,” Ruiz said in smiling disbelief.
“Decision time is a long time away, so whoever the leader is now… the leader can change tomorrow.”
That begs the question… does he actually have a leader at this point?
“I have two,” he replied. “Alabama and Michigan. So it wasn’t wrong that Alabama is my leader, but I also had somebody else with them. (And there are) other schools up there fighting for that top school list as well.”
One of the biggest lures for the Maize & Blue is the large number of New Jersey players dotting its roster. Ruiz is close with many of them, and is especially close with former Camden (N.J.) high teammate Brad Hawkins. Word came down Friday that Hawkins will not be enrolling at Michigan this fall as planned and will attend prep school instead. That news, while disappointing, hasn’t dampened Ruiz’s view of the Wolverines. Plenty of Garden State natives with whom he is familiar still remain on the roster.
“That’s my big cousin,” Ruiz said of Hawkins. “I talk to him all the time. He told me he is going to prep. He said if I don’t end up Michigan…’wherever I end up God has got a plan for us.’ He just stays positive with everything. He is not letting it beat him down or nothing like that. Everything is going good with him. He is going to do what he has got to do.”
“Michigan… with all of them dudes there that I know, it just makes it comfortable,” he later added. “It never really had a big impact on my decision because then again I’m always going to meet new friends and new people and make bonds with new and different people. But it definitely made it comfortable for me having a lot of people that I know there already.”
That, though, is just one of many factors he plans to weigh in the coming months. Ruiz plans to take his time comparing and contrasting the schools leading up to an announcement of his decision at the Under Armour All American game in January.