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?
|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.
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.
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.
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.