MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Former four-star running back Rushel Shell could become a rarity by seeing both sides of the Backyard Brawl.
After an encouraging freshman season at Pitt—and a U-turn this summer at UCLA—the transfer is reportedly considering West Virginia, Ohio State and Kentucky as his next destination. But would WVU extend a scholarship offer to a player Pitt coach Paul Chryst declined to allow back on the team?
“There’s interest,” said a source within the Mountaineers’ program.
Shell’s mother, Toni Zuccaro, told two Pittsburgh newspapers her son was attempting to schedule a visit to Morgantown next week. He previously visited WVU in high school when the Mountaineers were among the countless BCS programs pursuing him.
After setting the Pennsylvania career rushing mark with 9,078 yards at Hopewell High, Shell chose Pitt—a signing pitched as a major haul for a program seeking a return to its glory days of three decades ago.
Despite being suspended for the 2012 opener in which Pitt lost to Youngstown State 31-17, Shell put together a solid freshman campaign with 641 yards rushing and four touchdowns. His breakout performance was a 157-yard performance in a 35-17 upset win over Virginia Tech.
Shell’s only start came in the BBVA Compass Bowl, a 38-17 loss to Ole Miss in which he carried 25 times for 79 yards.
Presuming Shell lands at a FBS school, he must sit out the upcoming season and would become eligible as a sophomore in 2014. By that point, West Virginia figures to have three senior running backs on the depth chart — Andrew Buie, Dustin Garrison and Dreamius Smith—along with Wendell Smallwood, who will be a true freshman this fall.