WVU, Michigan battling for Christian
Though West Virginia will most likely not meet up with Michigan on a football field any time soon, much to the dismay of some WVU fans who may still be seething from the controversial resignation of former coach Rich Rodriguez, now at Michigan, the Mountaineers and Wolverines are in a recruiting war for Cullen Christian, one of the most sought after high school defensive backs in America.
Coaches from both schools have informed Christian he is their top target, among defensive back recruits. And for Christian, it's come to down UM and WVU.
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Christian, who plays for Penn Hills High School, in Pittsburgh, Pa., said for WVU, offensive line coach Dave Johnson is heading up the chase for his services, meanwhile UM's secondary coach Tony Gibson is countering the cause for the Wolverines.
Of Johnson, Christian said, "He just tells me I'm No. 1 on their board for corners. They send me letters every day -- hand written and stuff like that."
However, Johnson and Gibson are not the only coaches joining in the recruiting battle -- WVU defensive backs coach David Lockwood has impressed Christian, as has Rodriguez.
"They gave me a lot of attention," Christian continued, about WVU. "And I like coach Lockwood. I feel the coaching staff is one of the best in the country. I feel like they're No. 2 right now."
On the flip side, Rodriguez and Christian maintain regular contact, Christian said. "I talk to him all the time. He tells me they really want me. I'm No. 1 on their board. He tells me I'll fit right in. He tells me that all the time -- trying to get it stuck in my head."
Christian has been talking with people close to the Michigan program about exactly what it's like to play for Rodriguez, in Ann Arbor. "He seems like a cool dude to me," Christian said. "He was real laid back."
But from what Christian has been told by those who are already in the program at UM, Rodriguez's laid back vibe from the recruiting trail can change. "What everybody's telling me, he's real intense when you get up there. The intense one up there is [strength and conditioning coach] Mike Barwis. He's intense all the time," said Christian.
This Saturday, Christian is scheduled to take his first official visit, at UCLA, when the Bruins play host to Cal. He does have an official visit set up for WVU: "I have a date set up. I think it's Connecticut," he said. "I'm going to set up one for Ohio State and Michigan."
Christian has arbitrarily decided to announce his commitment on Nov. 24. "My dad just gave me two dates and I picked this one," he said.
ESPN Scouts Inc. ranked Christian, who is 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, the No. 18 overall corner back for the 2010 class and tagged him with a 79 scouts grade.
The Mountaineer coaches have been impressed with Christian for a variety of reasons, but according to Christian, mostly it was his "size, my footwork and my press coverage."
Last spring, Christian took an unofficial visit to WVU and had a chance to speak with Mountaineer running back Noel Devine and quarterback Jarrett Brown. "They were just telling me I would love it up there."
"I like the facilities and things like that, the tradition," said Christian. "The biggest thing is their coaches."
Penn Hills is off to just a 2-4 start this season, but Christian has kept up his usual form, totaling nearly 20 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery.
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