Born: June 14, 1999
Cesar Ruiz was born June 14, 1999 in Camden to Edwin Ruiz and Latoya Shambry. When Cesar was 8, his father was struck and killed by a car while helping to change a tire on Rte 55. Cesar grew up angry after that, and his mother—who worked two jobs to make ends meet— considered therapy for him. Instead, he took his aggression out on opponents in youth football in Whitman Park.
His coach, Brad Hawkins, ended up coaching Cesar at Camden High School. He constantly pushed Cesar to stay focused and improve, recognizing that he was a smart and talented player. Carlos wanted to play running back, but Hawkins convinced him he could truly fulfill his potential as a center.
Cesar did not lose any of his athleticism as he grew. And did he grow—he was wearing size 15 cleats in junior high. By the end of his sophomore year in high school, he was already on the radar of several college programs and decided to play his final two years at the IMG Academy in Florida. After his senior season he was the top-rated high-school center in the country and accepted a scholarship at the University of Michigan.
In 2017, Cesar made the starting lineup as a freshman and started several games at right guard. He moved to center in 2018, and became the leader of the Wolverines’ offensive line. The quarterback he protected, Shea Patterson, was the same player he blocked for at the IMG Academy. As a junior in 2019, Cesar was nearly perfect in pass protection, allowing no sacks and only 8 quarterback pressures. He was universally regarded as the top center in the nation.
The Wolverines went 9–4 in 2019 and were a Top 20 team. Cesar decided to skip his senior year and enter the NFL Draft. His final game was a loss to Alabama in the Citrus Bowl. He was taken by the New Orleans Saints with the 24th pick in the first round. He was the first center selected, and the only one in the first two rounds.