The Times West Virginian

Bob Herzel

April 29, 2014

WVU football lands Pitt transfer

MORGANTOWN — They are not going to like this 80 miles to the north, but it appears West Virginia is using its one-time rival Pitt as a prep school.

For the second time in a year, a once-highly regarded prospect has transferred from the Panthers to West Virginia in the person of defensive back Cullen Christian, according to Panther Digest.com.

West Virginia sports information office could not confirm the report.

Christian follows running back Rushel Shell, who transferred to the Mountaineers last summer after playing one season at Pitt. Once considered one of the nation’s top recruits, Shell announced he was going to transfer to UCLA before changing his mind, saying he wanted to be close to his child.

He wound up picking WVU over Kentucky and will be eligible to play this season.

Christian will be eligible to play immediately as he graduated this past weekend from Pittsburgh with a degree in Administration of Justice and will enroll as a graduate student in Sports Management.

He is not only the second former Panther to be lured to Morgantown by coach Dana Holgorsen’s staff, but is the second former Pittsburgh area athlete to have first attended Michigan before coming to WVU.

Christian, who played at Penn Hills, was rated as the overall No. 3 and No. 8 cornerback in the nation by both Scout and Rivals, respectively, when being recruited. Christian would go on to select Michigan but would transfer to Pittsburgh after lettering for the Wolverines as a freshman for the next three injured-plagued seasons.

“This is something I’m looking forward to. I’ve already started conditioning, and getting ready,” Christian told PantherDigest.com. “I went to the spring game, which was cool. I got to meet the coaches. I’m going to go there this week and get my apartment set up this week. I’ll start school on (May) 19th.”

The presence of defensive coordinator Tony Gibson, who initially recruited him at Michigan and who coached him in 2011 at Pitt, helped sway him toward WVU.

“From the first time I met him, I knew he was a down to earth guy,” Christian said. “He relates to his players, he gets it. The main thing, he puts everybody on the same level. Whether you’re a senior or freshman, the guy who deserves to be on the field is on the field.

“At Michigan, he never laughed at me. He always kept it real. When I got to Michigan, everything was exactly what he said. Everything was good. I could pretty much trust him. That’s a unique characteristic to have of a coach.”

Christian will have one year of eligibility at WVU and can apply for a second year after having played only two games last year for the Panthers.

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