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Luiji Vilain impressing at Under Armour Game practices
The annual Under Armour All-American Game is approaching, and plenty of Michigan commits will showcasing their talents in the New Year’s Day game.
None, though, have been more impressive than Luiji Vilain, the defensive end from Alexandria (Va.) Episcopal High whom 247Sports rates as 4-star prospect and the nation’s No. 8 player at his position.
— All-America Game (@AllAmericaGame) December 29, 2016
He is known for his explosiveness, violent hands, and — as you can see above — swim move. He’s been very impressive by all accounts during this week’s practices in Orlando, Fla. He’s held his own against some of the nation’s very best offensive linemen, and dominated some with that swim move, as well.
— Sleeper Athletes (@SleeperAthletes) December 29, 2016
Vilain definitely needs to get stronger, as that’s always been his Achilles heel. But if Michigan’s strength-and-conditioning program has anything to say — and it always does — then Vilain will be much bigger by the time next season rolls around.
He will get an early start, too, as the early enrollee will be on campus Jan. 4.
Cesar Ruiz living up to expectations
Much like Vilain, I’ve heard consistent things on Ruiz’s performance at the Under Armour practices, and they are all good. His lower base and next-level mechanics are good enough to put him in a position to start next season in Ann Arbor.
And his performance so far this week is proving why that’s a possibility — and why he is the nation’s No. 1 center and No. 58 overall prospect.
Our colleagues at SECCountry.com have been taking in the practices all week, and here is what they have told me about Ruiz:
LSU recruiting writer Sam Spiegelman
#Michigan OL commit Cesar Ruiz has been impressive blocking some serious interior DL
— Sam Spiegelman (@samspiegs) December 29, 2016
Florida recruiting writer Zach Abolverdi
“Ruiz is really good. He’s been the best interior lineman here.”
Auburn recruiting writer Benjamin Wolk
“Ruiz is a beast. That much is obvious.”
I made the “hot take” that Ruiz will be a starter at Michigan next season recently. A lot of people didn’t agree.
But with starting C Mason Cole returning for his senior season in 2017, I think Cole will bounce out to his original position at tackle, or one of the guard spots. Ruiz will then become a dream-come-true for Michigan: A starting center from Day 1 as a true freshman.
These practices have proven just how seriously good Ruiz is. And how important it was for Michigan to land his commitment.
The Wolverines have lacked a strong offensive line for the past decade, it seems. But that might come to a change with Ruiz and a few others in the fold.
Those are the two key updates I can provide, and I’ll have a full update on all of the guys inside the Under Armour practices Friday.
- Michigan defensive end commit Kwity Paye has struggled, as expected, in practice at the Under Armour Game. Coming from Rhode Island, Paye has never faced competition like this. So I fully expected him to come out slow, having to learn a bit. But I think that will only help him, and he might have a surprisingly good showing at the game on Sunday.
- Not much has been heard on the other Michigan guys in practice yet, but safety commit Jaylen Kelly-Powell, based on the photo galleries I have seen, is easily the most cut defensive back. His body looks like that of Jabrill Peppers out of high school.