Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

A 38-17 loss to Ole Miss in the BBVA Compass Bowl turned out to be the final game at Pitt for freshman running back Rushel Shell.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia couldn’t land Rushel Shell out of high school, but the Mountaineers made good on their second chance.

The former Pitt running back announced Friday he plans to transfer to WVU, where he’ll become eligible in 2014 and have three years of eligibility remaining. A four-star prospect according to Rivals, Shell also considered Kentucky and Ohio State.

West Virginia made a strong push to recruit Shell during his legendary prep career at Aliquippa, Pa., but a source close to the situation said “he never gave WVU serious interest” at the time. Several new factors worked in West Virginia’s favor once Shell left Pitt after a promising freshman year during which he ran for 641 yards and four touchdowns.

WVU safeties coach Tony Gibson and defensive coordinator Keith Patterson coached at Pitt in 2011 and were involved with recruiting Shell during his senior year of high school. “Those relationships definitely helped,” the source said, “because that’s something none of the other schools interested in him could offer.”

Location also played a role, considering Shell has twin toddler-age daughters—Amiyah and Arion—who live in Hopewell, Pa. Proximity to the girls became key when Shell announced in April he was transferring to UCLA but ultimately decided it was too far. (Pitt coach Paul Chryst subsequently declined Shell’s request to return to the Panthers.)

WVU’s other selling point was the depth chart. Four of the team’s top five running backs will have exhausted their eligibility within the next two years—true freshman Wendell Smallwood is the only current running back who projects to be on the roster come 2015.

Shell visited Morgantown on Monday and engaged in the usual recruiting tour of the facilities, save for one exception. He didn’t tour the dorms because, as the source noted, “he’s probably not going to live there anyway.”

“Things went really well down at WVU,” Shell told ESPN. “I enjoyed every moment of it. We toured the campus and facilities and I got a chance to hang out with other recruits and players on the team. They made my visit terrific and made me feel like family.”

Shell remains Pennsylvania’s all-time leading high school rusher with 9,078 career yards.


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  • Rich

    Shell is very close friends with Brandon Napoleon. They met at the Marine All Star game and kept in touch since then.


    Defensive, I meant


    Last year WVU had the worst offensive coaches I have ever see. Players who were showing improvement in 2011 got steadily worse as 2012 played out. The defense on all teams are being undercut by rules changes, and to focus strictly on trying to strip the ball rather than tackling only makes it worse. Ill take a defense that can deliver 6 three and outs a game over one that strips the ball twice a game, but gives up yards and points by missing the ball and the tackle.

  • dallenfive

    Totally agree with 1oleWVUFan, I think this team is going to surprise a lot of people this year in a positive way. Cant wait!

  • richard

    um, sorry 1olewvufan, but some of those players are wide receivers not running backs. whats an offensive back? they are either receivers or running backs. but i get you point.

  • Chef Camille

    He will never play a down for WVU,


    Ex Pitt player is a great addition. But as noted in most of your comments, DEFENSE is still our major worry. Playing 13 freshmen last year on defense and seeing no IMPROVEMENTS from game 5 to game 13 was an embarrassment to any to all the blue collar good people in WV.
    All we ask is they improve the DEFENSE and be competitive in all your games in 2013.

  • Matt

    Just go away Larry and we will all be better people, what a douche.

  • wvajoker

    Big Larry don't worry about anything, it is tw eagle that has been sipping the panther piss or bison pee. I think the defense willl be okay this year. The guys on defense are ashamed of last year and are looking for restitution and I think they are going to get it. Some of the posters in this comment section are just doomsayers and instigators and will argue that is night when the sun is out.

  • lee arthur

    WV is just not relevant when it comes to major college football.

  • JimJim

    How many more losers can The Dude find.

    • hailey

      I dont know Jim, is he recruting you?

  • Hop'sHip

    I heard he is a Shell of the player he once was.

  • Big Larry

    This 2013 defensive unit is going to be so good I can hardly wait to see how well they preform against William & Mary. I mean just think...practically everyone is back! And coach Patterson means more going to sleep at the end of the first half.

    And I agree that this year's defense is going to surprise a lot of people...Why is it that people think they won't be any good? What are they thinking?

    This year the focus is on DEFENSE DEFENSE DEFENSE...

    It will be so wonderful to see the Defense out shine the offense....

    Opponents will be hard pressed to score 15-20 points against us now that we have added all of the new incoming freshman recruits!

    Look out Oklahoma State & TCU...the Mountaineers have re-energized!!!

    • Wemakerain

      Isaiah Bruce and Karl Joseph were freshman and they contributed, I get that people who can't make intelligent arguments typically use sarcasm so I see what your new strategy is. Good plan, you have to keep it fresh abd change things up in today's society

    • Big Larry

      Kinda brings a tear to yer eye now don't it?

      • tw eagle

        that's some fantastic panther piss you been sippin big larry . . .you cookin you own ? ?

        • Big Larry

          I don't get it...

          If I criticize WVU I am criticized...

          If I heap praise upon WVU I am criticized...

          Can't you people make up your minds?

  • 1oleWVUFan

    Shell coming to WVU is definitely big, but I'm not sure it is huge, and here is why.

    WVU is loaded this season in the Offensive Backfield, and with or with Shell they are in pretty good shape for the 2014 Season. The only offensive backs, that I know WVU will lose at the end of the 2013 Season is Ivan McCartney (and unless he improves greatly this won't be much of a lose), and Charles Sims.

    Returning in 2014, unless something happens, will be: Buie, Clay, Wellman, Smith, Garrison, Johnson, Alford, Connor Arlia, White, Gibson, Carswell, Shorts, Smallwood, and maybe one or two more really good backs. Shell will definitely have to compete for playing time in 2014. This isn't a give me.

    And when people state that receiving core is untested and unproven, I disagree. We have seen White and Carswell in action at other schools, more especially who originally signed with LSU.

    WVU will be much better in 2013 than many expect.

    GO EERs!!!!

  • Rah

    You guys seem to forget the 2013 class was heavy on defense. You recruit in alternating cycles, 2014 is more offense heavy, that's all.