ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Cesar Ruiz isn’t your typical freshman.
No, Ruiz is already seasoned in the rigors of campus life.
How so? Well, before Ruiz enrolled at Michigan this January, he spent his previous two years staring at Bradenton’s (Fla.) IMG Academy, which recruits nationally, selecting all-stars like Ruiz to come play at its campus just south of Tampa in a “college” like environment.
“When I first got here it felt like I was IMG at some other campus,” Ruiz said, who grew up in Camden (N.J.) “And I felt like I had more freedom. My schedule basically is exactly the same. Almost everything is the same. I really didn’t have to adjust to anything really. You know how some dudes get home sick, I’ve been away from home for about two and half years. So I’m just used to it already.”
Ruiz says he’s “definitely” more mature now, and his decision to enroll early might of played out different if he chose to stay home versus leaving for IMG.
“If I was in Jersey I wouldn’t of enrolled early,” Ruiz admits. “I wouldn’t even of thought about it. I would’ve stayed home. But IMG really helped mature me and really pushed me to graduate early and get a head start in spring ball and the season.”
Looking back, Ruiz says his decision to leave for IMG helped turn him into what he is today.
“The day I decided to go to IMG, I made the decision, I said ‘If I want to be the best. If I want to play how I want to play, if I want to play my highest of my ability against the best competition, that’s where I got to go,’” Ruiz said.
And evidently it’s paid off, because now Ruiz is prepared to live the college life.
“Just from there I feel like I have matured since I’ve been there being on my own at such a young age,” Ruiz said. “Most teenagers aren’t on their own, buying their own groceries, taking care of themselves, really, living the college life as a teenager in high school.”