PITTSBURGH - Penn Hills High School has long history of producing football standouts, but the Indians have never had a player invited to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. All of that changed Thursday night when four-star cornerback Cullen Christian was officially introduced as a 2010 participant in the prestigious all-star game, which will be held on January 9 in San Antonio.
The announcement was made at Penn Hills' 2009 Fall Sports Award Ceremony.
"First of all, I just want to thank everybody for being here and showing love," Christian said to an auditorium full of his fellow athletes. "I'm going to go down to Texas and represent Penn Hills the best I can, put us on the map a little more. I'm the first player from Penn Hills to ever play in this game, so I'm just trying to represent for everyone else that has come through Penn Hills. This is a big deal.
"I'm real excited. This is a great honor to be selected and play with the best players in the country. I'm just going to try to represent Penn Hills well."
After wearing a Penn Hills jersey for the past four years, Christian was excited to don the black and gold jersey of the Army East squad, a jersey that was previously worn by the likes of Ohio State quarterback Terrelle Pryor, Pitt wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin, and Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy.
"At first I didn't think I'd see my name with those other names, but I just worked hard and I knew my name would be up there in lights sooner or later as long as I fought for it.
"I'm looking forward to playing against some of the best. This is something that I need to do before I get to college so I can get a feel for it. It's not exactly college, but the game speed will be fast and there will be a lot of competition there. I'll be able to prove myself at that kind of game."
At the same time, Christian said he has a lot of respect for the organization behind the All-American Bowl.
"This means a lot because the Army's out there doing things for us and dying for us, so this is a great thing," Christian said. "I have some family that's in the Army, so I just want to represent them, represent my school, represent everyone. It's a great honor."
Christian and Whitefish Bay (Wis.) punter Will Hagerup are the two Michigan commits playing in the Army All-American Bowl, and while there is usually a greater number of Wolverine commits in the game, Christian is anxious to carry the flag for both his current and future schools.
"I'm going to represent Michigan down there just like I'm going to represent Penn Hills," he said. "I'm going to go all out and try to make my team look good."