Sometimes the difference between success and failure is simply whether or not you are in the right place at the right time.
For cornerback Christian Angulo, it doesn’t look like Cincinnati was the right place. In four years with the Bearcats, one lost to to injury, Angulo played in only 11 games and was anything but an NFL prospect.
One season at Hampton University, though, changed all that. Let’s take a closer look at Angulo, who has signed with the New York Giants as an undrafted free agent.
Contract status: Year 1 of three-year, $2.285 million contract (RFA: 2023)
How he got here
Robert Prunty was associate head coach/defensive ends coach in Cincinnati when the Bearcats recruited Angulo in 2015. By 2018, he had moved on to become head coach at Hampton. When he saw Angulo’s name in the NCAA transfer portal following that 2018 season, he didn’t hesitate.
“I knew Christian was a good football player, but for some reason after we left [following the 2016 season] he didn’t get to play. I don’t know what the situation was, but I knew he was a good player,” Prunty told me during a phone conversation.
“I only had him for one year but I knew he was good enough and he was talented enough for what I wanted to do. I needed corners that could play press coverage 90 percent of the time … he was the kind of guy I wanted. He’s long, he can run, he’s football savvy, he’s a very cerebral player, so I knew he could grasp our system quick. I offered him a full scholarship to come here and play one year for me, and he had a good year.”
Indeed, he did. Angulo finished fifth in the FCS with 14 passes defensed and earned second-team All-Big South Conference honors.
Angulo, because of an injury that resulted in a medical redshirt season, could actually have returned for a second season at Hampton. Instead, he chose to take his chances with the NFL.
Prunty credited Giants’ area scout Pat Hanscomb for being the reason Angulo ultimately chose the Giants.
“He could have signed with other teams, but he wanted to be a Giant because he liked his relationship that he had developed with Pat,” Prunty said. “Pat did a phenomenal job finding him.”
So, how did a kid who earned an NFL shot in one FCS season not earn playing time at Cincinnati?
Listen to the podcast below as Emory Hunt of Football Gameplan speaks with Angulo, and that is obviously a topic Angulo doesn’t wish to delve into. He deflects when Hunt asks.
“Christian isn’t the type of kid that’s going to say anything bad about anybody. I think it’s just Christian, he didn’t get to play. He’s never been in trouble with the law or nothing like that. He never got in trouble in school, so it wasn’t situations like that with him,” Prunty said.
“It’s just that it didn’t get done. I think Christian’s just manning up and saying it’s on me.”
Prunty figured there was likely fault on both sides.
“We’re not dealing with a guy that got in some type of legal trouble or been dismissed from the team. It’s just on the football field it didn’t work out. Only he knows why,” Prunty said.
“It’s gotta be on both sides … if a kid can leave and come here and also sign with the Giants, that works on both ends.”
Via the 2020 Football Gameplan Draft Guide published by Emory Hunt:
- Classic H/W/S guy, who plays with length, physicality and quickness.
- A patient player at the LOS when in press. Does a fantastic job using his feet to delay the receiver at the line, before getting his hands on him.
- Can turn and run really well; able to transition fluidly.
- Shows good ability to stay in phase, as well as pin the receiver to the sideline, using it as a help defender.
- Strong man-to-man skills.
Areas of Improvement:
- A bit awkward when trying to come out of his break - out of a backpedal. Comes out high and a bit stuck in his transition.
- There are opportunities for him to get an interception, but he settles for the pass breakup; that’s fine, but when there’s no threat to knock the ball away from him, he’ll still settle for the PBU.
- Gets a bit grabby if the receiver gets a clean release, and subsequently gets turned around.
- Needs more experience in zone coverage.
Here are the results of Angulo’s virtual Pro Day:
10-yard dash: 1.52
20-yard dash: 2.57
40-yard dash: 4.49
Vertical jump: 40.5 inches
Bench press (225 pounds): 21 reps
Broad jump: 10-7
NOTE: Results per Hampton University
Angulo, obviously, has an intriguing skill set with a limited one-year sample size against a lower level of competition. Considering the draft and free agent resources the Giants have put into the cornerback position the past couple of seasons Angulo’s path to the 53/55-man roster is a difficult one. Especially in a shortened offseason where players like him at the bottom of the 90-man roster may have limited opportunities. Most likely, Angulo is fighting for a berth on the 12-man practice squad.
Prunty, who saw 27 of the players he coached at Hargrave Military Academy prep school from 2002-2009 find their way to the NFL, including first-round picks Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples, believes Angulo can stick with the Giants.
“This kid right here. … I’ve got no doubt in my mind that Christian Angulo will make the Giants team. He’s 6-2, he’s long, he has great instincts, and if you play press coverage he’s what you’re looking for,” Prunty said.
“Christian Angulo just hasn’t played a lot of football. The Giants are getting a steal.”
Prunty believes Angulo’s physical gifts and extensive press coverage experience give him a chance.
“I know this much. I know that other than the SEC we were one of the teams that play press coverage 90 percent of the time. I think he’s NFL-ready because of that,” Prunty said.
“This kid has a legitimate chance, I think, to make the 53-man roster because this kid can grasp the system, he understands football and he’s hungry.”
It has become obvious that GM Dave Gettleman and head coach Joe Judge are seeking positional versatility on defense. Prunty said Angulo is a “three-for-one” player.
“Listen, let me tell you something. The Giants got a three-for-one. They got a guy that can play the boundary corner, the field corner and safety. He’s got the kind of body that can do that,” Prunty said.
“I could see a guy like him playing for a while early in his career being a corner and then later in his career turning out to be a safety. I think they got a three-for-one. I think he’s a combo DB.
“They found a diamond in the rough here.”