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Posted on Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 9:36 p.m.

Michigan cornerback commitment: 'I'm going to start'

By Dave Birkett

Help is on the way for Michigan’s much-maligned secondary.

Pittsburgh Penn Hills cornerback Cullen Christian gave a non-binding verbal commitment to the Wolverines on Tuesday, choosing Michigan over West Virginia, UCLA and Ohio State.

The sixth-best cornerback and No. 88 overall player in the country according to, Christian is the highest-ranked defensive recruit in Michigan’s 2010 class.

“He’s a very gifted corner,” Penn Hills coach Ron Graham said. “He’s explosive to the ball, he has all the tools of quickness, speed, ball reaction, vertical. Very quick feet.

“I believe from looking at the people who are there and who may be leaving, that type of thing, he felt like he might have an opportunity to get on the field early.”

Christian said the chance for immediate playing time was appealing.

"The opportunity up there's great," Christian said. "I’m going to come up there and I’m going to start. They told me I got an opportunity to come up and play, but I’m going to come up there, I'm going to start. I'm going to come up there and work hard, do whatever I got to do to get on the field and I'm going to help Michigan out."

The Wolverines finished last in the Big Ten in conference games in points allowed and total defense. Michigan started four different players at cornerback this year and had just six interceptions from its secondary.

Christian said junior Donovan Warren, Michigan's best corner and his host during his official visit last week, spoke of exploring his NFL options this offseason.

"I honestly think that Donovan's going to try to mess around and go to the league," Christian said. "He told me personally he might mess around."

Warren led Michigan with four interceptions this year. No. 2 corner Boubacar Cissoko was kicked off the team in October, forcing safety Troy Woolfolk to play half the season at cornerback.

Graham said Christian, a long-time Michigan fan, grew close with head coach Rich Rodriguez, strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis and secondary coach Tony Gibson, his primary recruiter, during the recruiting process.

“There’s some upswing and I’m sure he’ll be part of it,” Graham said.

Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.



Wed, Nov 25, 2009 : 8:57 p.m.

are you people serious?? your going to judge this kid by his 40 time. of course i'm sure none of you have ever seen him play. and taking rivals word for it is probably not a good idea. where has notre dame ranked in the rivals recruiting for how many years? thats right, right near the top. we all see how good that panned out. any help is good help, give rich 2 more years and we'll be national title contention. the system change really hurt us. HAVE FAITH PEOPLE, we win the close games this year and were 8-4 and all you foos arent complaining


Wed, Nov 25, 2009 : 2:08 p.m.

Potential means nothing unless we have a coaching staff that can transform it into consistently demonstrated skill. If there is one thing that I've taken away from the last two seasons it's that RR and his cronies have no ability to help players improve and fulfill their potential through the course of a season. What RR is good at is blaming others for his failures. What kid is going to be inspired by that?


Wed, Nov 25, 2009 : 1:30 p.m.

I don't get too excited about any of these kids until they either start school in January or sign their official letters in February. Too much can happen between now and then, decommits etc. (That's not a knock on RR, just the facts of CFB in 2009) This kid could turn into a good player though. He'd pair up well with some of the other recent recruits.


Wed, Nov 25, 2009 : 11:55 a.m.

Are you the same folks who pumped up Troy Woolfolk? Morgan Trent? Obi Ezeh? Sam McGuffie? who pumped them guys up?? troy neeeds to go back to saftey morgan was horrible he let big play after big play and we all new sams running style per his highlight video wouldent work. are biggest problem is we had a decent D class come in last year but most of them red shirted so we were stuck with the same bad players on the year alot of them will be on the field along with Cullen now we just need a few more grimes knight couple other guys and the future will be solid hopefully


Wed, Nov 25, 2009 : 10:32 a.m.

heartbreak..yes Christian is just a recruit and we are all overhyping a recruit...but it is pretty easy to overhype a recruit playing CB for Michigan right now. All he has to do is come in and give up less than 3 TD's a game and it will be a n improvement. He knows how bad are secondary is which is why he thinks he will start right away. Hopefully he is the real deal.


Wed, Nov 25, 2009 : 10:20 a.m.

With fans like walmartwolverine, who needs enemies!!! This 4 star recruit is a good get despite what the whining walmart has to say!


Wed, Nov 25, 2009 : 10:11 a.m.

One more thing: All those who are pumping up Mr. Christian: Are you the same folks who pumped up Troy Woolfolk? Morgan Trent? Obi Ezeh? Sam McGuffie? Just saying that we should hold our horses and not put too much on this high school senior quite yet. Let him grow, adjust to the college game, and allow him to be. Even Woodson (the standard bearer) didn't pick it up until the latter half of his frosh year, and even then, not fully until his junior year.


Wed, Nov 25, 2009 : 10:02 a.m.

The best position in football is the backup and/or the incoming recruit. YOu can't go wrong. While I think it is exciting to talk about Gardiner or Cullen or Jefferson or Pryor (our last big time recruit.....OOPS), let us not put too much faith or pressure in these guys. Some of these players live up to expectations, but so many do not and then next year, we will play the same games again. I think this whole attention to recruits is overblown, and for that I blame the media for covering these news conferences. A news conference for a high school player? Huh? As we say about RR, let's see facts on the field before we judge. Though it is nice that a highly recruited athlete wants us.


Wed, Nov 25, 2009 : 9:51 a.m.

he came here to play early if he wanted to sit he prob would be a suckeye right now hes got talent let him on the field cant be any worse then woolfolk or mikeW...


Wed, Nov 25, 2009 : 8:32 a.m.

Some of us have the patience for these kids to develop. Unfortunately, other "fans" are going to read all these quotes about him and whine if Christian doesn't come in dominate immediately. Remember, folks...this is a TRUE FRESHMAN coming in. How many of them come in and make an immediate impact? Cornerback Justin Turner, the top recruit out of Ohio last season who chose Michigan, ended up redshirting (granted, he had some problems that caused him to miss the first week or so of practice, but still...). With a full year of practice under his belt, Turner should be ready to go next season before Christian, and hopefully they can work Cullen in slowly rather than throw him to the wolves prematurely.


Wed, Nov 25, 2009 : 8:22 a.m.

Speed is important for a corner, but if he uses his size, strength, and hitting ability to jam receivers closer to the line, he can really help us. The most critical thing is having an instinct for where the ball is going. We've had too many DB's - some with a lot of speed - who never seemed to have a clue where the play was going (e.g. Morgan Trent most recently). But, when Christian gets here, the coaches will throw him out there and see where he fits best.


Wed, Nov 25, 2009 : 7:22 a.m.

dzuck Maybe you should become a sparty fan and then you can wait forever.


Wed, Nov 25, 2009 : 6:41 a.m.

let's wait before we announce him as a defensive saviour...... We've heard hype about players in the past before that didn't pan out. Adam Patterson was a 4 star stud dlineman and never got on the field at Michigan. Does Terrelle Pryor look like a 5 star Qb let alone the #1 player in the country? Take the scouting reports with some salt.....and don't buy into the star system either way. Michigan has had alot of 3 star guys do more in their career than the 5 stars.


Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 11:39 p.m.

Speed is his main weakness...the scouts and he himself said that. But just about everything is blue chip. Size...over a 39" vertical jump...jams recievers at the line...lengthy...and with his frame he is going to be a monster after putting on some muscle. He already hits hard. Go Blue!! Get Grimes and Mathis!!


Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 11:25 p.m.

who cares about 40 time with no pads on. the kids got real long arms and gonna be a playmaker now we get a few more impact players like him and the D will be lookin alot "kool aid" drinkers no RR knows how to recruit this class will be better then the last and it will be like that tell hes gone.


Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 10:57 p.m.

However, has his 40 time as 4.55. Flip a coin

Rudy Flyer

Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 10:53 p.m.

Read the the conclusion Mr. Walmart... "Conclusion: Cornerback is such a tough position for a freshman to come in and have an impact right away. I can see him getting some looks in nickel and dime packages along with special teams responsibilities early in his career. Don't be surprised if he is pushing for all-conference honors by his second or third year."


Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 10:53 p.m.

Also according to ".....Needs to improve his speed, which will help him to recover when beaten on a route....." ".....Cornerback is such a tough position for a freshman to come in and have an impact right away....."


Tue, Nov 24, 2009 : 10:06 p.m.

Now we are talking. Get the D fixed! The offense can score points (when they hold on to the ball). It was the D that killed Michigan this year. GO BLUE!