Suspense Up for Christian's Decision (Part 2)

In Part two of GoBlueWolverine's feature on Pittsburgh (PA) Penn Hills CB Cullen Christian, we caught up with the man responsible for guiding the youngster every step of the way during his recruitiment, his dad. Mr. Christian breaks down the most significant factors in his son's upcoming decision, the thinking behind some of the moves they've made, his thoughts on Michigan, and much much more.

Cullen Christian Profile

Sam Webb:  When we talked before you were just talking about how blessed you are to be able to be there and support your son. I can feel that from talking to him.  During this whole recruiting thing, he has said ‘look man, I go by what my dad says.  He's telling me what to look for.  He's telling me what to watch out for, what to listen for from the coaches.'  When you went into this, did you have some idea about how the recruiting process was doing to do down or was it a situation where you were just sort of playing it by ear?

Carlson Christian:  "I was playing it by ear.  Fortunately, the head coach of Buck's (Cullen Christian) football team, Coach Ron Graham… his son was heavily recruited, so he had an idea of what to look for.  I can learn from anybody and I know this is one of the biggest decisions in my son's life.  I don't want to steer him in the wrong direction.  I want to try and collect as much information as I can.  So I either ask the head coach, because his son was heavily recruited as a senior or I asked several (other) coaches. Terry Smith at Gateway High School.  I had asked him just want do I look for.  How do I know these guys are going to be genuine?  How do I know these institutions are going to have my son's best interest at the heart?  I asked around and I tried to get a feel for what I should be looking for.  Of course, my son is 17 years old and they are going to tell him whatever.  As his father, I'm trying to steer him in the right direction.  Sam, to answer your question, he had no idea that he was going to blow up like this.  The dude worked his tail off to be in this spot.  It's funny that you asked that because I had just asked him when he came back from West Virginia I said, ‘dude you ever think it was going to be like this?'  He was like, ‘dad, I never thought it would be this big.'  I never thought it man.  The recruiting process is crazy.  It's crazy and it is hard to decipher who's telling the truth, because you know what Sam; they all tell you the same thing.  ‘You're #1 on the board; you'll be a good fit here, blah, blah, blah.'  You've got to try and decipher who is a good guy, who's the bad guy.  Who's just telling you because they want to get your son, blah, blah, blah.  It's tough man.  I had to ask around because I wasn't sure, but I think asking around and getting some good advice.  It has really helped out.  It's crazy man.  If you don't know anything about the process, it could bite you, chew you up and spit you out.  You won't have any idea where you are.  It is just that bad.  My son is receiving a lot of attention, as you know, as far as is concerned, he's the third best corner in the nation.  It's a business and I wasn't prepared for this.  I tried to do the best I can by asking around and getting my son the best information to be able to decipher.  What kind of question we should ask or what to look out for."

"I just think right now where we are sitting, we are pretty much in the driver's seat.   Michigan has been… Tony Gibson, Coach Rodriguez, and Coach Robinson in my opinion have been great people.  They've been…I believe in my opinion up front from the very beginning and everything they've said, they've done or it has happened.  They were the first people to offer Buck a scholarship.  The most important thing that I try to tell my son Sam is when you become a man, you got to do what you say you are going to do because that's all you are going to have is your word."

"I'm never going to tell him what school to go to, but I will tell him what school not to go to.  It has been a blessing, as his father, I'm extremely proud.  Like I said before, nobody really knows how hard my son worked to get to this point.  It's not like somebody just gave him things.  The dude really, really works hard and he's blessed Sam.  I feel like I'm blessed too.  The whole thing has been a tremendous blessing man and I'm enjoying every minute of it.  Life is great right now.  It really is."

Sam Webb:  You talked about how you got some advice on what to look for and you said that it is hard to decipher who's being truthful and who's giving you spin.  As you went through the process, you sort of got a chance to feel some things out.  What were the things specifically began looking for?

Carlson Christian:  "What we decided was…what we were going to do is once we narrowed down our top four or five schools; what we were going to do is put it on paper.  What school is going to give you the best opportunity to achieve your goals?  Everybody knows that when you go to college whatever sport, you are going to get an education that's a given.  So Michigan is the second leading public school in the nation, big plus.   Coach Gibson is the guy recruiting you, is your position coach and also the assistant head coach, two pluses.  Buck had called Coach Gibson probably about three days after he came to school to offer him a scholarship and Buck had said, Coach Gibson, I didn't get an offer.  Coach Gibson said, ‘I'm in Florida once I get back in Michigan, I'm going to send an offer.'  He said, ‘as a matter of fact, I'm on my way back today, I'll get the offer faxed over to the school.'  Sam, the next day, Coach Ron Graham gave Buck the faxed offer sheet with Coach Rod saying on the fax offer sheet, handwritten Sam, ‘Buck have a good holiday, hope you'll give us a good look.'  I told Buck, ‘look here man, that guy told you that he would fax your offer sheet the next day and he did it.'  To me Sam, that's big.  For somebody to do exactly what they say they going to do and Coach Gibson has been doing that since day one.  That means a lot to my son.  I tell my son, 'when people tell you they are going to do something, make them accountable.'  So whenever he is talking to a coach, whether it is Coach Gibson, Coach Lockwood, Coach Carnell Lake, whoever make it accountable.  If they tell you that they are going do something, make sure they do it.  If they don't, that is something for you to put in your mind to think about, blah, blah, blah.  It's all about being a standup guy Sam and doing what you say you are going to do and so far Michigan has done that.  I think that is why my son…I as your father have your best interest at heart.  I'm going to see things that you don't see.  So far, Michigan has been pretty much standup people and they do what they say they going to do and that mainly is what sticks out for my son."

Sam Webb:  One thing I found interesting when I was talking to Buck the other day; he said that he went on the official visits by himself.  What was behind the decision to send him on the visits by himself?

Carlson Christian:  "Well the decision to send him on the visit by himself to California, UCLA…  I said, you know what, my son is going to have to grow up.  He's in the process now of clearing that bridge and becoming a young man.  I said going to UCLA is a perfect opportunity for him to go by himself and feel what it's like to be by himself.  That was the only reason why.  The trip to UCLA by himself and seeing what it is like there on his own… let him be a young man to handle certain things by himself.  That's why I sent him to UCLA by himself.  Now West Virginia, I'd already been there.  We'd been there for a visit with Coach Lockwood, Coach Stewart and Coach Johnson; so there was really no reason for me to go there.  The whole thing is for me, to try to get my son to understand, look here, it's about growing up now.  It is about becoming a young man, a senior in high school and the time is going to come a lot faster than I think for me to be out there on my own.  So I drove him out to West Virginia, dropped him off and came back Monday morning and picked him up.  Now he has an official visit set for Ohio State on the 14th (November) I haven't talked to their coaches, so I will be accompanying him on that visit to see how the coaches are.  He is supposed to go down to Pitt on the 7th (November).  I've been to Pitt on an unofficial.  I talked to the coaches, so I'm going to send my son by himself.  The whole process of sending my son by himself Sam to the school that I won't go to with him on the official visit, if I've already been to that school, I've talked to the coaches and I've seen what that school is about.  It's about my son going there and growing up.  That's the bottom line – that's it."

Sam Webb:  So that is going to be the case at Michigan too… that you probably aren't going? 

Carlson Christian:  "I like Michigan Sam.  So I'm going to go up there (laughing).  I like Coach Gibson.  I like Coach Rod.  So my wife and I will be going up there on the 21st. "

Sam Webb:  So take me through the process; you sort of talked about it a little bit.  Let's say for the sake of argument you're done with all the officials.  You got home from Michigan that Sunday after the Ohio State game, you got a decision coming up in a few days on the 24th, what are those few days going to be like; is there a process that you're going to go through to arrive at the final decision; how are you going to arrive at and who is going to be involved in getting to that final choice?

Carlson Christian:  "Okay.  If Buck isn't sure where he wants to go and he's confused right now.  I have a good idea where Buck is going to go and you're going to find out on the 24th."

"…The three main factors the… the chance to get the NFL, the chance to have a great relationship with the coach because guess what, Sam I'm not going to be there.  I want to have confidence in the coach that is going to be the dad because I'm not there.  I want a coach that is going to care about my son… that when there is a problem that they're going to handle it and not just let things go.  Everybody needs discipline.  My son needs discipline.  I want to believe that if my son is acting up or doing something he is not supposed to be doing… which I don't believe he would… but if that happens, something needs to happen (to reprimand him).  There are going to be consequences for everything you do.  That' one thing that Buck even says himself Sam…that coach Gibson was the first one that offered me a scholarship, he is the one I have the best bond with… and that's what I'm talking about.  I'm a coach too Sam.  I coach track in high school.  I don't want someone to look at my son like he is a piece of meat.  I want them to look at him at a person first before looking at him for what you can do for me on a football field.

Sam Webb: So the NFL thing… how is he evaluating the getting to the NFL side of it?

Carlson Christian:  "The thing is what school play pro style defenses, what schools have defensive coordinators that have been in the pros, what schools have D-back coaches that know what it takes to get to the NFL.  You know what Sam, if my son and I thought his best chance to succeed in life and go to the NFL was in Hong Kong, we're going to Hong Kong Sam.  And that's real.  I mean that.  I meant that.  That's how bad he wants it.  My son has no problem with sacrificing.  He wants what he wants and he really wants to do a good job and he wants somebody to care about him.  That's all because you know what…he is going to put the work in. What he needs to do to succeed, he is going to do it."

"….I want his announcement date to be special.  You know why Sam?  The dude earned it.  He worked his tail off and I want this announcement day to be as special as it can for him because he has earned it.  You only get to do this one time, Sam.  So I want this day to be as special as it can for my son."

GoBlueWolverine will have more on Christian in the coming weeks.

Also, click for: Suspense Up for Christian's Decision (Part 1).

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