|Cullen Christian made a brief appearance on the Michigan football team|
Like so many others before him, Michigan defensive back Cullen Christian has departed before ever making an impact in Ann Arbor. The 6'0", 187 lb. cornerback told Superprep, "I came here to be a part of something big and it has all fallen apart. Part of you feels like you failed, while another part of you wants to go prove them they were wrong. I need to move on now and do what is best for me."
When Christian says "prove them they were wrong," he's of course talking about the two coaching staffs who had him lower on the depth chart than lightly recruited fellow freshman Terrence Talbott and walk-on Tony Anderson, among others.
Christian played in ten games as a freshman and made 6 tackles. However, he was beaten badly on a couple plays and often looked a step or two slow. There were some questions about his speed coming out of high school, and the biggest question I had was about his tackling. Despite those apparent faults, he was a top-six cornerback to both Rivals and Scout. And as a senior in high school, he was selected for the Army All-American Bowl. I'm not sure that many people expected he would be an instant star at the college level, but I don't think many people expected him to be buried on the depth chart, either; in addition to the aforementioned Talbott and Anderson, he also seemed to be behind fifth year senior Troy Woolfolk, redshirt junior J.T. Floyd, and classmate Courtney Avery.
Christian is the eighth (or ninth, depending on where you slot 2010 quarterback/defensive back Conelius Jones) defensive back to sign a National Letter of Intent for Michigan from 2007-2010 and then transfer or fail to qualify. In other words, there are nine defensive backs floating around the free world (or the imprisoned world, in Boubacar Cissoko's case) who could be playing out their eligibility for the Wolverines right now. He's also the seventh player of the 27-member class of 2010 to depart prior to the end of his freshman year. Rich Rodriguez looks like less and less of a recruiting expert as more than 25% of his class disappears in less than a year.
This probably doesn't hurt Michigan in the short term. Christian was likely a third-string cornerback, and that doesn't even take into account the incoming freshman class, which includes a few talented corners. But it does potentially hurt Michigan in the long run, especially if other defensive backs continue to flame out at similar rates. James Rogers essentially defaulted into a starting cornerback job as a senior in 2010, and continued departures could provide more opportunities like that in the coming years.
On the plus side, the Wolverines' small 2012 recruiting class just increased by one. A class that looked to be 16 should now be able to take 17 players, and I would not be surprised if that number continues to grow.
I would bet a nickel that Christian ends up transferring to Pittsburgh (UPDATE: You owe me a nickel.). He's from the Pittsburgh area, the Panthers were one of his finalists coming out of high school, his former position coach Tony Gibson latched on at Pitt, and he also has a former high school teammate and good friend, Brandon Ifill, who plays defensive back there. Fellow ex-Michigan defensive back Ray Vinopal transferred to Pitt in recent weeks as well.
For summaries of other departures, check out the Ex-Wolverine Encyclopedia button at the top of the page.