"We just finished the press conference and I have never seen Christian so happy and so content," his dad Chris Westerman says. "He's just glowing in his decision to join the Auburn Family."
Showing early interest in Auburn because of his familiarity with the Tigers having family in the Southeast and grandparents that live on Lake Martin, Westerman got an early offer from coach Gene Chizik and his staff but wound up choosing the Texas Longhorns in early April of 2010. Still there was something brewing with Westerman and Auburn that would never been extinguished, that was his relationship with offensive line coach Jeff Grimes.
Building that bond throughout months of talking, it got strengthened even more when Westerman and his family took an official visit to Auburn in December to watch the Tigers practice for the BCS National Championship Game. With Texas in the midst of changes on its staff Westerman decided to give Auburn a longer look and his father says that was the thing that sealed the deal for his son and family.
"I would tell you it was of the utmost importance the relationships that Christian has formed over about the last 10 months with coach Grimes," Westerman says. "It was just amazing the comfort level meeting he and his family, his wife and children. Even on the official visit we got to see the other coaches but I would say the coach Grimes relationship is probably the number one thing that really started to draw Christian to Auburn to begin with. Then the visit, meeting the staff and other folks, the players, that was huge."
That visit got the ball rolling full speed ahead for Westerman and the Tigers but it may have been finished off just a few weeks later. Two days before Auburn would defeat Oregon for the title, Chizik and his entire staff paid an in-home visit to Westerman while in Arizona. His father says it was at that moment they all realized Auburn was a special place and the right place for his son.
"The visit they did out there when coach Chiz and the entire staff came to our home, they came to our house and it felt like we had known them forever," Westerman notes. "It was just comfortable and they were all about the right things. There was no pressure. There was no cheesiness or a sales process. It was just ‘pray about your decision and we would love to have you here…we want you and want you to be a part of our family…we're all in, just all that stuff'. It was just so real that Christian got enamored with it."
While that may have sealed things for Westerman and his family, the seeds were laid in the previous week on the other side of the country with Westerman participating in the Under Armour All-Star Game festivities and practices. Playing on the South team with many of the top players in the country, Westerman says his son just instantly bonded with several future Auburn Tigers and from there things just blossomed. It was something he didn't have at Texas despite having months to bond with his future teammates there. It was something that in the end played a big part in Westerman's decision, a decision that was more than just football.
"We really believe that after Christian spent a lot of time praying about the decision, that when he was in Orlando for the Under Armour All-American Game somehow with all of the kids there he forged a huge relationship with Reese Dismukes as well as Thomas O'Reilly and then became the best of friends with Kiehl Frazier," Westerman notes. "There were a lot of kids there but for some reason every time I would see those guys they were all together. They were eating together and hanging out and playing. It was kind of neat to see.
"He forged these really deep relationships in the period of about eight days with these Auburn commitments. When he came home he told me he had already talked to Reese and Thomas and they were talking about being roommates and being together. It was just like ‘wow' how does that happen?"