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Transcript: New Orleans Saints first-round draft pick Cesar Ruiz call with New Orleans media

Cesar Ruiz speaks to media following being selected 24th overall to the Saints

New Orleans Saints Center/Guard Cesar Ruiz
Friday, April 24, 2020

Take us back in the last 12 hours or so and how your life is different now since joining the Saints?
"Yeah, it's a surreal feeling. I never knew what organization I was going to play for and I'm just blessed for it to be in New Orleans and 24 hours ago I was sitting in my room praying, with so much on my mind about where I'm going to end up. All that stress is gone, it's an amazing feeling to be with an amazing organization."

What does it mean for you to represent your hometown of Camden, N.J., in the NFL and being a first round draft pick?
"It means everything. After I got drafted, I made a post and directed it to all the kids in Camden who have a dream. I took my time to make a post to them and to let them know I did it and to send some motivation their way and let them know anything's possible. Just put your mind to it and believe in yourself, because nobody else does. So that's what it means to me for my city, to go ahead and motivated them all I can and let them know anything's possible. Just look at me."

Did you have anybody like that for you growing up there?
"Nobody really from Camden that I looked up to was going to the NFL really. There was somebody that was a high school teammate, he was like three years older than me and plays for the New York Giants and we played together. I was a freshman his senior year and what he really did was after he joined the Giants, he let everybody know, everything is possible. Just work hard and it's possible."

Sean Payton said he drafted you to come in and play. What is your reaction to that?
"Yes, I heard that on Twitter when I was going through everything. It makes sense. You wouldn't take someone for them to sit back and watch. Coach thinks very highly of me and my abilities. When he said that, it motivates me even more to work hard, because when I get out there I'm going to be on the field."

How much contact did you have with the Saints in the pre-draft process?
"I had one interaction with the Saints at the combine. I had a lot of interviews during the whole process but don't remember it being the Saints. I don't even remember them calling me from my draft day phone number. All I remember is the combine."

Did you get any sleep at all last night?
"I got some sleep, not as much sleep as I would like. I was able to rest my eyes for a little bit."

What is it like coming into the league and blocking immediately for a Hall of Fame quarterback and how much will you take it on yourself to protect such a valuable asset?
"Coming in and having Drew Brees as my quarterback, I have to protect him at all costs. That's what I'm going to do. That's what I do and I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing, protecting him. It means a lot to have a leader like that, someone who's been around the game for so long to be able to teach me a lot and sort of mentor me as well, learn from him. It's really important for me to be able to protect him and have his back."

What was it like getting the personalized message from Drew?
"When he texted me a video, it was just random. I looked at it. I knew he was going to contact me soon, Coach Payton told me Drew Brees was contacting me soon. When I saw it I had a million messages. I clicked on it and it was him welcoming me to the team, congratulating me."

Do you have any connections to this organization or know any members?
"Not anybody really. The only person I've had interaction with was Erik McCoy. I reached out to Erik McCoy when I announced I was leaving (Michigan) early and I reached out to him on Instagram for advice on what to expect through this draft process. He was actually the only player that I didn't know already that I reached out to. Everybody else I knew that gave me advice I knew already. He was the only guy I didn't know before that I reached out to for advice because he was in my shoes last year. I reached out to him and he gave me advice during this draft process."

Are you going to be OK with all the Ohio State guys in this locker room?
"Yes, that's not a problem with me."

What was some of the advice McCoy gave you?
"He basically gave me combine advice, a nice long message and suggestions on how to stay in shape for the combine and to stay ready."

Have you heard from him since last night?
"Yes, I messaged him last night."

What was the exchange like?
"I reached out to him because he was the only guy that I reached out to (pre-draft) that I didn't know and now we're teammates and now we'll play alongside each other. I made an effort to reach out to him because I appreciated his advice and him taking the time out of his day to respond to my messages. I reached out to him. He said he was going to reach out to me after he lets everything die down. I made it a priority to reach out to him and let him know I'm ready to work."

We just got off the phone with your college offensive line coach at Michigan and he said you are a quick learner. How do you think that will translate with the probability you won't be able to join the team until August?
"I believe I will be able to be ready in August. I'm going to study my playbook, stay in shape, eat right and do everything right and I'm going to do everything I can to stay in shape, be professional and be ready when I get there in August."

One of the things he also said was you were very attentive in meetings and always looking for feedback. Was that always the case for you. Have you always been a meeting junkie?
"In meetings, I just want to know why I'm doing something so I can do understand it more, not that I'm questioning it, it's just I like to understand things and what's going on. I'm a big meeting guy, I enjoy meetings a lot. That's where I flourish, learning football. It's the best class I've ever taken. That's one thing that I like to harp a lot at, in meetings."

What do you attribute having only three penalties in college in three years?
"My penalties were illegal man downfield (laughter). I didn't have a holding penalty or anything like that ever. I was just playing football, knowing my technique, playing it like it's supposed to be played, knowing what I'm doing."

You were emotional last night, discussing your father, do you mind talking about that and making it to the NFL, continuing to honor his memory and make him proud?
"Yes, last night, the emotions you saw when I got the call I was immediately thinking of my dad, picked my head up and saw my family. Everything started to hit me at once. I was grateful and just so shocked. It was really an amazing feeling to carry my dad's legacy. I'm always going to have that good, positive attitude. I'm always going to be that guy that's playful, that someone can get along with and (good) locker room guy, on and off the field that gets along with people."

What would your dad have said about last night?
"He would probably have been as shocked as I was and cried like I did, but my dad would have been extremely proud of me."

What do you know about New Orleans not having been there?
"It's a real traditional city, the food, the people. That's all I know. I don't know much because I haven't had any relationships or interactions in the area until now. I'm going to be learning a lot when I get there and understanding where I'm at."

I heard a story about how you first got to IMG Academy and you and your mom toured the place and she said "yes, he's going to stay here". What do you remember about that and why was that a place where you felt comfortable right away?
"Me and my mom had never seen anything like that place in our lives. It was basically setting us up for an amazing situation. I've never seen anything like it. My mom had never seen anything like it. It was a great situation from where I was at, a safer environment, more opportunities to improve my game, more academic help, just things like that, something I knew I needed to prep me for the next level."

When you got to Michigan how did Coach Warinner help elevate your game?
"He helped elevate my game by bringing that aggressive coaching style and really just harping on re-learning my technique and learning the little things a lot that people don't really notice plays a big role. He emphasizes the little things."

Have you had a chance to look at the Saints offensive line and some of the successes they have had in recent years? What do you think about what they've done and what's your interaction with Dan Roushar been?
"Yes, I have. We just had a welcome call of congratulations. He said we will talk once I'm free again, when everything isn't crazy right now. He congratulated me and told me he was excited."

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