MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Because four-star rankings apply a standard to players before they even arrive on a college campus, Cullen Christian arrives at campus No. 3 labeled a bust.

He has one more season to rewrite that legacy.

“I’m more hungry than I’ve ever been and I’ve got a lot to prove,” Christian said during an interview with MetroNews “Sportsline” on Tuesday night. The eighth-ranked cornerback in the 2010 recruiting class has traveled from Michigan to Pitt, and now he’s trying West Virginia, still aiming to deliver on the talent that had 20 power-conference programs dangling scholarships four years ago.

“For people that haven’t seen me play in a while, I think I need to let everybody know the I’ve still got it, that I can ball. It’s just that I’ve got to get an opportunity to do that.”

After appearing in 11 games as a Wolverines true freshman, Christian sounded bewildered about the diminished role he accepted the past two seasons at Pitt. Down to his final year of college football, he wasn’t willing to accept it again.

“When I transferred home to Pittsburgh, it was nothing that I was doing wrong not to be on the field,” Christian said. “I never got a reason not to be starting. There was no good reason.”

Two games into last season, Christian was experiencing tendinitis in both Achilles, feeling unable to play full-speed and dubious about his role with the Panthers.

“I could still play through (the tendinitis) but it wouldn’t do anything but get worse, so I took some time off ” he said. “And when I took that time off I just realized I was going to move on somewhere else and play my last year of football.

“I realized that Pitt wasn’t the place for me and I wasn’t going to get a fair shot to play ever.”

He presumes no one will afford as fair a shot as West Virginia defensive coordinator Tony Gibson, who recruited Christian to Michigan only to be fired in the Rich Rodriguez house-cleaning a season later. The staff change led to Christian’s first transfer, ensconced in a series of honest-but-unflatttering comments that didn’t sit well with fans in Ann Arbor:

“I didn’t really like it up here. I didn’t like the campus, and really, I’ve been miserable since I’ve been up here. … When Coach Gibson left, it got crazy; I wanted to be with somebody who recruited me, somebody who knows me and knows what I’m about. That’s why I picked Michigan in the first place, and it was a different coaching staff, I wouldn’t have committed there.” — Christian to the Michigan Rivals site in April 2011.

Christian overlapped with Gibson during his transfer season at Pitt, but then the assistant was off to rejoin Rodriguez in Arizona in 2012. They will be paired up for a third time now, Gibson having returned to his WVU roots and Christian becoming essentially a college free-agent after earning his criminal justice degree at Pitt.

“No one wants to transfer even one time, so me transferring twice, I really didn’t want to do it,” he said. “But I’m chasing the dream. I want to be able to play in front of a crazy crowd. I want to be able to win games.”

The kid who turned 22 years old last week has 20 tackles in 25 career college games, with no interceptions and one pass breakup. On Tuesday he was in Morgantown leasing an apartment, and getting a new lease on a career that hasn’t matched its billing.

“If people really knew what happened behind closed doors, they would have a different opinion of me,” he said. “People don’t know the hours I put in when no one was watching. People don’t know how hard I worked.

“I’m a kid that’s hungry right now.”

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Comments

  • Patrick

    We here in west by god except heart and determination more than anything. He will fit right in

  • Robert

    West Virginia High Schools are full of top seeded football players that are not given the chance to play. Let's wake up and give our state players the opportunity to show what they can do. It seems that colleges doesn't want their local talent. Just think back to the days of the past. How many of our state players have went to other colleges and are in the football hall of fame.

  • Eric

    Mr. Christian, at WVU we have an age old cheer I feel you will enjoy. Let me take a moment to teach it to you.

    "Eat Sh*t Pitt"

    And that's all there is to it.

  • Bamaeer

    Christian was labeled 4**** talent out of high school. He has not lived up to the billing or due to circumstances of his choosing, following Gibson from job to job, he has killed his chances of playing. Having to learn a new system & communications with each new program has retarded his development. WVU's talent on the backend has improved, but if Christian's talent is that good & his learning curve is not long, he will play, however, if his curve is long, he will be in the same situation as he experienced at the previous locations. Lets hope his talent is an upgrade, if so, he will play.

  • Bamaeer

    Christian was labeled 4**** talent out of high school. He has not lived up to the billing or due to circumstances of his choosing (following Gibson from job to job, he has killed his chances of playing. Having to learn a new system & communications with each new program has retarded his development. WVU's talent on the backend has improved, but if Christian's talent is that good & his learning curve is not long, he will play, however, if his curve is long, he will be in the same situation as he experienced at the previous locations. Lets hope his talent is an upgrade, if so, he will play.

  • JBinWV

    As bad as the defense has been, I welcome any talent right now. I don't even care if he comes our way via sPitt.

    Man, I miss that rivalry game.

  • Rick55

    Apparently the guy's never been in trouble with the law and earned a degree.

    Allan pointed out that he and Coach Gibson have ties from when he was recruited. If nothing else, he should provide depth at the position, be coachable under Gibson, and he seems to want to play.

    I see very little downside here barring injury.

  • VaultHunter

    Welcome Cullen! Glad to add another 4 star talent to our state's university! Dana is building a great program full highly rated recruits. Unlike that community college in lil Detroit we land high rated prospects.

    Ofcourse you could have gone to Marshall and been one of their best prospects ever but you knew better than playing glorified AA ball.

    I'm just glad our program is not made up of 1&2 star talent and recruits who don't even receive ratings. We could always move to Conf USA and brag about beating Southern Miss but I'm happy in one of the big 5 conferences. Good luck to Marshall I hope one day you guys can land a 4 star player. Its feels pretty good you guys should try ot sometime.

    • Football Fan

      Your funny!!

    • Sam

      May 8th is officially wvu day in the state. Wear the blue & yellow proud on 4-8

  • Mountaineer Fanatic

    I am looking forward to a great reversal season. All who really want to play for the great Mountaineers are welcome. Those who do not care are not. LETS GOOOOOOO
    First things first. BEAT ALABAMA!!!!!!!!

  • Ollie Luck

    Jay Zoom, its not polite to talk about your daddy like that in public now get off the computer you are grounded. I am taking down all the Moo posters in your room when i get home

  • william

    Great, come to WVU and your get to play!
    Not much talent at WVU, and that starts with Dana "The Man in Black Holgerson
    You will get a lot of playing time here-
    On and Off the field!

    • farm kid

      first things first, William your lack of education and writing, desire more attention. second william, I find it hard to believe that you ever saw the inside of mountaineer field. third William,. hugie bear also wears black. William do you have a problem with the color black?

      • matt

        Hey farm kid this is a sports blog not an English essay forum. A spelling or grammar mistake does not make a sports opinion or fact any less valid. I find that when someone usually gets bent over an error they usually just do not have a strong rebuttal.

    • DWM

      Glad to know that your mom paid the internet bill and that your posts continue to have the same level of commonsense.

  • Joanna

    Go Buc ! We have seen what he is capable of -- infortunatly Pitt wouldn't let him shine like he should -- just like a few other penn hills graduates I know . Michigan will be a great place for you to display what you have and forget the nay Sayers -- they have no idea who you are and what you are capable of . Good luck and We are behind you !

  • Derek

    Let the kid play before we judge him. He has to have talent for people to offer to him.

  • JD

    Not sure if this kid is talented or not, but red flags are always raised when he comes in with excuses as to playing time (lack of).

    • teamnasty24

      JD just look him up. He's talented, just been a casualty of coaching changes. I can understand your concern though. But he's legit and his excuses are REASONS!

  • cutty77

    I agree with this young man. Pitts new Coach is a Big Control freak. He forgets these are young kids he's dealing with. But never fear,he will be gone from Pitt in less than 2 years. Welcome to Mo-Town young Man, i wish you well.

    • farm kid

      cutty, that pitt coach walked into a worst situation than what bill steward left dana and that was bad. recall pitt had {Ithink} four coaches in one year. pitt could fire him in two years. remember it is pitt's D.N.A.

      • cutty77

        I agree but when you take a bad Job,you don't make it worse. To me he is just a losser Coach from Top to Bottom.