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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  • 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.

  • wv-ed

    Looking everywhere... can't find a story on IMG walking away from WV Radio and replacing all of those stations with those with less Nazi-like tendencies. Let's cover the news, boys, cause I am dying with laughter.

    • Big John

      Go to wvillustrated as they are up to date with Beckley and Fairmont tied down.

  • Chief Casavantes

    If this cat is anything like Noel Devine speed wise, he better be able to run north and south in order to be a difference maker.

  • big tom

    ok,,, he sits out one yr,, then plays one yr, and then can go into the draft,,, so we probab ly have him one season of playing if he's that good.

  • richard

    i agree magic mike....we need help on defense. surely the coaches can see this and take action. not just any defensive player but some top quailty players. p.s to the coaches----teach the players how to wrap their arms around the players legs and tackle!! you can't just hit a player with your shoulder pads and think he will drop!!

    • tw eagle

      the Mountaineers can use help everywhere , especially on D . . .just how do expect the coaching staff to get these 'top quality' kids to WVU - kidnap them ? ? Morgantown sure ain't the first school on a 5-stars list of destinations . . .and the 2&3 star kids dream of playing at texas, Michigan, and Alabama too . . .only time and success will start the kids at least thinking of WVU as a viable school to play football at . . .how high would the WVU program be in the ncaa hierarchy if a knee jerk reaction to a "down" season hadn't chased the winningest coach in Div I
      football out of town on a "rail" . . .

  • Big Larry

    Finally some good news!

    However the resigning of Jeff Casteel ended an era that we may never again see in our lifetime. The old days of WVU Smashmouth defense are gone forever.

    Now it is all offense offense offense. We win by outscoring our opponent...not by stopping them.

    I think Shell makes 8 offensive commitments to one defensive commitment.

    It is what it is...

    • mauldawg

      Are you kidding me. When Jeff Casteel left that was a blessing.

      • Rick

        When Jeff Casteel was here, WVU's defense consistently ranked among the best in the country in fewest points allowed. Last year's WVU defense was perhaps the worst in school history and one of the worst in the country. You might be right, mauldawg.

        • MountainMover

          Statistics and rankings are misleading. WVU's defense was competent for the Big East, but when they played in bowl games they either outscored opponents or lost. Even Clemson, which turned the ball over multiple times, scored 33 points on a Casteel defense. There has been no emphasis on defense at WVU since Rodriguez walked through the door. I'm all for explosive offense and racking up points, but you can't be all sizzle. Gotta have some steak with that sizzle.

        • Wemakerain

          I think you should revisit the stats a little, Casteel fielded a top 20 defense every 3 years, but on years where the team was young they ranked more in the lower 60's. the Big East also had the lowest aggregate offense of ANY conference (including MWC, C-USA, etc) I think his good defense was as much a product of lousy offense as it was his skill. Further evidence can be to look at all the scores Arizona allowed last year, they gave up a ton of points, but less yards than WVU's

          • wvrefugee

            Ain't gonna happen!

          • Wemakerain

            My point was his inexperienced players cost the defense, same story with us last year, and like Arizona I expect improvements in the defense. Ps the 3-3-5 stack is without question a finesse defense, anything that relies on linebackers to make plays sideline to sideline means it is the opposite of smash mouth down hill attacking defense

          • wvrefugee

            It was his first year there!! With Jeff and Lockdaddy leaving they also took a tough brand of football that won games and didn't focus on stats. Last year, we focused on stats and lost games!

  • CaptainQ

    This is a good acquisition for WVU. Now if they could only land some high quality defensive players, the Mountaineers would have a better chance of winning more games in the future.

    You can score all the points you want, but if you have a defense that lets the other team score MORE, you're not going to win. It's that simple.

  • smlretiree

    Get this stable of running backs an O line and they will produce, but they can't do it on their own.

  • Chef Camille

    He's as productive at reproducing as Devine. Wow what a recruiting coop.

    • hailey

      Chef, stick with baking pies, your trolling keeps getting worse

  • Wemakerain

    Welcome aboard Mr. Shell, just know you chose correctly to leave Pitt and you're in good shape

  • Magic Mike

    Still need defense.

    • Michael Walker

      Defensive line? - check
      Linebackers? - check
      Defensive backs? - check
      Defensive coordinator? - check
      Defensive coaches? - triple check

      Defense? - Good (not great yet)

  • richard

    he needs to be a team player and get rid of the prima donna attitude he had out of high school and at pitt. he does that and give his all he will be a great addition.

  • pghmountaineer

    If he keeps his head on straight he will be something to watch. He's Noel Devine with more power. With this type of running attack, the quarterback just got a whole lot better.
    It's gonna be fun folks.

  • Maxxajay

    Shell has 3 years and Sims has 1 year to play football ....Looks like we are going to be good shape for running backs for years to come. Way to go coaches.....