Posted by Jerry Hinnen
Apparently the Ann Arbor-to-Pittsburgh exodus isn't just for coaches.
Earlier this year, new Pitt coach Todd Graham took full advantage of Rich Rodriguez's dismissal to hire away three different former Wolverine assistants. It's a decision that's already paying dividends where the Panthers' roster is concerned, according to this report at Scout.com; thanks in part to his familiarity with new defensive backs coach Tony Gibson, former four-star recruit and 2010 Michigan cornerback Cullen Christian has elected to transfer to Pitt.
For the Panthers, it's a welcome addition to a 2012 secondary that finished 19th in the country in pass defense a year ago but has its work cut out for it under Graham, thanks both to the Panthers' new defense-straining no-huddle offense and a 2011 two-deep that could feature as many as four seniors. Christian (like virtually every member of Michigan's 2010 pass defense) didn't do much to stand out as a true freshman in Ann Arbor, but did see action in 11 games and recorded six tackles.
A Pittsburgh native, Christian's return home and ability to continue working under his original position coach could see him fulfill the potential that made him one of Pennsylvania's most sought-after prospects in the class of 2010.
But where Michigan is concerned, it's yet another blow to a secondary that's already sustained a decade's worth of blows the past few seasons. The Wolverine pass defense was already in tatters last August, and that was before Troy Woolfolk missed a season with a serious ankle injury, Vlad Emilien left the team, Jared Van Slyke broke his clavicle, Ray Vinopal left the team ... you get the picture. Christian's decision not only deprives Brady Hoke of a much-needed scholarship body at corner, but of the highest-ranked recruit remaining in the entire secondary.
It's not a pretty picture for the Wolverine pass defense. But don't expect an unproven, first-year staff like Graham's to have much sympathy.