Thanks to depth issues, there may not be an individual position in the 2017 class that is more of a priority for the Wolverines staff than the center position. And the staff just received some big time news as they just landed the top center in the entire class as IMG Academy (FL) OC Cesar Ruiz has committed to Michigan.
I Have Officially Committed To 🙏🏾💯 … pic.twitter.com/zgUjbNUPyL
— S A U C Y ™ (@_OverCees) December 19, 2016
Ruiz is the #1 center in the class (per Rivals and 247Sports; #2 for Scout and ESPN) for good reason. He has elite size, strength and athleticism mixed with the quick twitch, nastiness and leadership abilities that are needed at the position. Add in him playing at two CFB pipeline programs, including the best football academy in the country for his junior and senior seasons.
With the playing time there, he should be a factor at the position from day one.
Ruiz plays with a low pad level and explodes well. He is quick to the second level and his agility allows him to manipulate his body and make square blocks on smaller targets. He has a strong initial punch and once engaged, he drives his legs and turns the defensive play to open a hole. He retreats well in pass protection and he reads blitzes well. Adding more knee bend and getting his hands inside more are key to his development.” -via Scout.com’s Brian Dohn
Being a top player and center in the class, he held offers from just about everyone. However, Michigan got in on him early thanks to his former teammates and good friends Ron Johnson and Brad Hawkins committing to the 2016 class. He received his offer in the summer of 2015 and, though he consistently said he didn’t have a leader, he looked to be the favorite throughout thanks to multiple visits.
Alabama was rumored to be a favorite for a short time over the summer but more visits to Ann Arbor and lack of room in Tuscaloosa put Michigan back in front for good. Ruiz made it official during the holiday season to give Harbaugh and the Michigan coaching staff a nice present.
- Height: 6’3”
- Weight: 320lbs
- Hometown (School): Camden, NJ (IMG Academy)
- Notable Offers: Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Ole Miss, Miami (FL), Michigan State
- Rankings: Scout (4*, #100 overall) – Rivals (4*, #77 overall) – 247Sports (4*, #66 overall) – ESPN (4*, #124 overall)
- Composite Rankings: Four star, #58 overall, #1 C, #11 in Florida
As for the Rest of the Class
Ruiz is the 23rd overall commitment for Michigan, the 5th offensive lineman commit and the 2nd commitment of out Florida (2nd out of his home state of New Jersey). With the center position firmly locked up, the staff will now turn its focus to DL Deron Irving Bey, who will decide at 4pm (EST) today, and then Ruiz’s teammate, LB Jordan Anthony, who will announce on Thursday. Both players look like safe bets to UM.