With several starters departing from the offensive line, Michigan will be seeing some new faces line up in their season opener against Florida. One of those new faces could be early enrollee offensive lineman Cesar Ruiz. The 6-foot-3, 321-pounder out of Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy was highly coveted throughout the recruiting process with offers from many of the top programs in the nation including the Wolverines.
However, when it came down to making that ultimate decision, it really wasn’t that tough of a choice for Ruiz.
“I had no reason not to come here,” said Ruiz. “It was at one point I was trying to find a reason why not Michigan. I was on my visits and I took four official visits and all those visits I was comparing it to Michigan. No one could compare to Michigan and I was like this is the best place for me.”
Coming in, Ruiz was rated as one of the top centers in 2017 and a prospect many believed could compete for a starting role. Still, he noted there will be a learning curve, but Wolverine offensive lineman Mason Cole has taken him under his wing since arriving in Ann Arbor to teach him the ropes.
“Coach Drevno wants me to play center,” said Ruiz. “That is what he emphasized that he wants me to play center. I’m learning a lot from Mason (Cole). When I first got here, the first week him and I were just in the film room after our free time. We didn’t have any weights and [we] were in the film room. He was just teaching me the terminology, the calls, the plays and stuff like that. He’s been a really good mentor to me. The first couple of weeks he’s been teaching me a lot.”
He went on to add with Cole’s guidance, he also has an open mindset to play anywhere for offensive coordinator Tim Drevno.
“Coach Drevno talked about moving guys around this spring, so if he wants to plug me in at guard, then I’ll play guard or if he wants to move people around and wants to plug me in at center, then I’ll play center. It really doesn’t matter to me and I’ll do whatever he wants me to do.”
If Ruiz does slide over to play some guard, he noted it won’t be a tough adjustment for him to make at all.
“I mean at IMG I played guard like when we blew people out, I would be like can I just go in at guard,” said Ruiz. “I would play a quarter at guard or play scout team guard at practice against the first team defense, so I’m pretty familiar with guard and I played a little bit of guard in the Under Armour game as well.”
Wherever Ruiz does eventually settle at for the Wolverines, he along with the other ten early enrollees, plan to make their presence felt early and often.
“I talk to a lot of the early enrollees that came already and we all talk about playing early,” said Ruiz. “That should be everyone’s goal. When you come here and leave high school early, your goal should be to play early. We have talked about the work we have to put in and what it takes to actually play early and the actual chances of us playing early.”