As expected/hinted at/hoped against all year, Michigan's star center announced he's leaving early for the NFL
All Glory To The Most High LOVE pic.twitter.com/DG0S3bVI51
— King Ruiz 〰️ (@_OverCees) January 3, 2020
Ruiz came to Michigan as the rarest of prospects: a five-star center who'd actually played center in high school. Cesar pipped Michael Onwenu at right guard late in 2017 and took over at center the last two season, over which time Michigan's previously manifest interior pass protection issues suddenly disappeared. How much of that was Warinner and growth from Bredeson/Onwenu, and how much was due to the preparation and line calls of Ruiz is impossible to tell from film. Also impossible to tell: how much of Ruiz's tendency to move too quickly to the linebacker level was Michigan's scheme versus Ruiz's decision-making.
That tendency is probably why Ruiz didn't become the Rimington finalist we projected him to be this season. His strong film against Alabama's Raekwon Davis, Michigan State's Raequan Williams, Penn State's Robert Windsor, and Ohio State's hoard of hellbeasts should be enough to ensure at least a 3rd round pick, while his natural athleticism could see him leap to the 1st, where some analysts already have him. I don't know how the Colts are fixed for centers these days but the Indiana and Notre Dame games from this year will stick out as Ruiz's most dominant performances.
It does make the decision of former backup C Stephen Spanellis to grad transfer this offseason more of a blow. To that: bowl practice observers reported redshirting freshman Zach Carpenter was taking second-team snaps last month. Combine that with a bunch of fall hype from the coaches and it's a fair bet Carpenter is now the leading candidate to follow Ruiz. Fellow 2019 recruits Nolan Rumler and Jack Stewart were also potential centers as recruits, and preferred walk-on Andrew Vastardis, who's been involved in various position battles for a few years, played some center in garbage time this year as Spanellis was repping at guard case he was needed.