Hello: Cullen Christian Comment Count

Tim November 24th, 2009 at 6:49 PM

Michigan has gained a commitment from PA CB/S Cullen Christian, from Pittsburgh's Penn Hills High School. Yay and whatnot. How about we move on to the informative portion?

cullen1.jpg

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN
4*, #3 CB 4*, #6 DB 4*, 79, #18 CB

Christian can play either safety or corner, but he's ranked by all three sites as a corner. Scout.com's Bob Lichtenfels offers a scouting report:

Christian is a nice sized cover corner who gets better with every rep and only lacks experience at the position. He has the ability to a true lockdown corner. Right now he relies a lot on instinct, but is getting better at being aware of everything that is going on around him and jumping routes. He is tough to beat in press coverage and he will hit you. Plays very physical football and is not afraid of contact.

From the start, Christian is noted for his physical ability. As a corner, that means he's good in press coverage or in Cover-2. It can also mean he's suited to switch to safety. Rivals's report echoes the sentiment, but points out that he isn't a speedster:

Needs Improvement: Needs to improve his speed, which will help him to recover when beaten on a route. Christian will also need to add some muscle mass and strength, which will help him make solo tackles in the open field.
Most Impressive: He has hips on a swivel, excellent ball skills and the ability to steer receivers off their intended route by using his long arms as weapons. His long arms also allow him to reach around receivers and bat down balls that smaller corners couldn't even reach. Christian is very confident and does not let getting beat affect him on the next play.

ESPN has more of the same, though they're the outlier with a low ranking:

The only asset Christian is missing is great speed. He has coveted size, quickness, fluidity and savvy as a D-I corner prospect. Utilizes his long arms and frame well jamming and pressing receivers off the line. Consistently forces receivers to the outside in zone, Cover 2 schemes and takes away....

I'm not linking it because they've hidden most of their coverage behind a paywall for the express purpose of annoying me. Take that, corporate drones!

For a guy who gets a lot of talk about moving to safety from corner because of less-than elite speed, hearing that he has loose hips is encouraging. Still, after entering a college weight-training program, it's unclear how much mass he'll add to potentially become a safety. His coach gives standard coachfluff on Christian's abilities:

"He's an excellent cornerback," Graham said Thursday. "And he's a leader on and off the field. He brings leadership to a team, and he has big-play ability. He has excellent hands and is very quick. He runs excellent patterns. He's just a well-rounded athlete.''

Yay, meaningless quotes. For his part, Christian prefers CB:

WHY ARE YOU PLAYING SAFETY THIS YEAR? Just the fact that at cornerback, the other team can take you out of the game and not throw your way. Teams didn't throw the ball to my side much last year. At safety, I can make plays.

DO YOU LIKE SAFETY? It's OK. I don't like it better than corner. I love corner. You can show your athletic ability more at corner.

OFFERS

Christian had offers from a number of programs across the midwest and nationally, including Pitt, BC, Cincinnati, Colorado, and Illinois. His finalists were Michigan, West Virginia, and UCLA, and all had offered. "DB offer from Ohio State" is just as ringing an endorsement as "QB offer from USC" or "LB offer from Penn State," so knowing that he also held a Buckeye offer should be a hugely encouraging sign for Michigan fans.

STATS

High school DBs rarely have easily found stats. Christian is rarely mentioned in articles following Penn Hills games, so I assume that's a good thing (though it likely means he's not contributing a ton on offense either). If you find something, leave it in the comments.

FAKE 40 TIME

Christian's Scout profile gives him a 4.55-second mark, which is about where you'd expect for a DB. However, since every scouting report on the kids says he's not that fast for a corner, that sounds like a 1 FAKE out of 3 score. His Rivals profile says 4.68, and is combine verified. It is quite obviously not FAKE.

VIDEO

Christian has a long junior highlight on Youtube, uploaded by a user who calls himself "cullenchristian." Coincidence, I'm sure.

Part 2 can be found on the tubes.

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

Despite a widely-reported lack of great speed, the recruiting sites are still very high on Christian. This means he's probably very good at most other things. His rankings are pretty even across the different recruiting sites, which mean's he's pretty-well scouted, and probably accurately rated.

The big question is whether he ends up playing corner or safety once he gets to Michigan. He's known as a big, physical presence who doesn't have elite speed. That sounds like a future safety to me. His position, at least for year one in Ann Arbor, will depend on where JT Turner plays (and whether Donovan Warren stays for his senior season). Christian is likely to end up at the other spot, and take a redshirt year or play exclusively on special teams as a freshman.

In his second year on campus, Christian will probably play a big role in nickel packages, in addition to special teams duty. After a couple years getting acclimated to college ball, he can be a starter down the road.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

Michigan needs about a thousand DBs, so taking a highly-rated one probably won't change the way they're recruiting. It might give them the ability to be a little more selective with the guys that they do take. Tony Grimes and Rashad Knight are still realistic options, and definitely wouldn't be turned away. Any top prospect, such as Tony Jefferson, is not affected by the commitment of Christian.

Etc.: Penn Hills is also the home of D-1 prospects DT Aaron Donald (Pitt commit) and S/WR Brandon Ifill. Neither is considering Michigan at this time.

Comments

jg2112

November 24th, 2009 at 11:50 PM ^

Good get Bouje. This is very weird to see, however. Carvey did almost the exact same sketch on SNL when he hosted in 95 or a similar range.

Instead of "vacationing in the Hamptons," the producer said "Barbados."

It's on Carvey's SNL Best Of DVD.

BlueGoM

November 24th, 2009 at 8:17 PM ^

A huge get, as everyone knows we need big help on defense. Now we just need a few more top defenders to round out the class, preferably including one Mr. Beachum, we can do the recruiting happy dance.

Huss

November 24th, 2009 at 8:17 PM ^

I'm glad it's finally over with him. Welcome aboard, Cullen.

When you consider that he doesn't have the one thing the recruiting sites covet most(speed), it's a testament to just how truly talented the kid is - as opposed to the plethora of SPARQ camp workout warriors that the sites give out 4-stars to on a whim. I think we've landed one of the very few college-ready corners in this recruiting year. Whether its at safety or nickle, I think he'll be seeing the field plenty.

GBOD79

November 24th, 2009 at 8:21 PM ^

In the article on scout.com, which is behind a paywall, Cullen said he has been committed to us since May but asked that it be a secret because he wanted to see what else was out there. Cullen said he knew he would keep his work and nothing changed that.

Great to have you aboard Cullen! You sound like a man with character and integrity.

GBOD79

November 24th, 2009 at 9:00 PM ^

I dont think they knew about that. The way it sounded in the article Cullen was surprised our coaches kept it secret and he is surprised nobody else let it slip.

OSU had no idea he was a silent commit. They are just assholes, dont give them so much credit.

WolvinLA2

November 24th, 2009 at 8:23 PM ^

About time Christian. I was refreshing my computer like a madman for over an hour. Then I googled "Miley Cyrus nip slip" for about 3 minutes and boom, he commits.

In hindsight I'm glad he waited.

Moe Greene

November 24th, 2009 at 8:28 PM ^

Alas, I wish that someone would have made a High School Quiz Bowl recruiting video of me to upload onto YouTube....those are always cool to watch.

All snark aside, this helps turn the tide on a crap week!

UMaD

November 24th, 2009 at 8:49 PM ^

Its a little tiresome to see projected depth charts with true freshman starting.

Hopefully the Turner and Campbell experience will teach a few people about tempering expectations for freshman, even 4/5 stars on Rivals.

That said, SOMEONE from this freshman class will probably get playing time at corner, especially if Warren goes pro.

colin

November 24th, 2009 at 8:58 PM ^

to be a college ready safety than to be a college ready corner. you need 3 defensive backs to run common zone defenses and supposedly Warren is coming back. so after Warren and Woolfolk, i'm sure Rich will go with whoever is the most ready and plug in Woolfolk accordingly. so if Cullen is willing to play safety, a redshirt is less likely.

UMaD

November 24th, 2009 at 9:08 PM ^

behind proven recruiting hype veterans like Vlad Emilien, Carvin Johnson and Marvin Robinson. Plus the inevitable position switches for Jerald Robinson, DJ Williamson, Cornelius Jones, etc. One thing we don't have to worry about is experienced former 4-stars like Mike Williams or RS freshman starters like Jordan Kovacs being in his way because we know that no one ever improves after their freshman and sophomore years.

OK, that was pointlessly sarcastic... I disagree and think its unlikely he breaks through into a starting spot where decision-making and experience seem to be pretty critical. Anything could happen though...

Thrillhouse

November 24th, 2009 at 9:06 PM ^

Dammit, why is it everytime I get pumped up about the fact that we've just landed a lockdown corner, someone has to ruin it by telling me he's probably moving to safety.

[Larry David Voice] Having said that [/Larry David Voice], woo!

[email protected]

November 24th, 2009 at 9:37 PM ^

Having watched him play, the thing I like the most is his ability to time his jumps when going for the ball, whether it was on offense or defense, he demonstrated a great knack for going up and getting the ball with great hang time.

wildbackdunesman

November 24th, 2009 at 9:45 PM ^

I am sorry, but I am really mad at Rod for picking up Christian Cullen. Why on earth would we want a kid who can't even fake his 40 time down to a 3.9? Fire Rod, hire Mike DeBord!

I am not being serious btw.

Louie C

November 24th, 2009 at 11:04 PM ^

This is good news! This is all the more reason why RR doesn't need a 2010 or else ultimatum. I think another strong defensive class will help big time. Once this defense is restored and back on track, all the detractors will be forced to eat crow. If I had my say they'd be forced to eat penis.Or glass.