Updated: Michigan cornerback commitment: 'I'm going to start'
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 Rivals.com, 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 AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.