Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Former Pitt running back Rushel Shell arrived at West Virginia last August overweight. But assistant JaJuan Seider says Shell “firmed up” while sitting out the season.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — As exiled Pitt running back Rushel Shell mulled West Virginia among his transfer options last summer, and West Virginia mulled whether to accept him, newly hired Mountaineers running backs coach JaJaun Seider sought a second and third opinion.

He chatted with fellow assistant Tony Gibson, who recruited the four-star prospect out of Aliquippa, Pa., when Shell was smashing the Pennsylvania high school career rushing record. Gibson vouched for the kid, who had been suspended for a game during his lone season at Pitt, subsequently left the Panthers during the offseason and was denied a return by head coach Paul Chryst.

For pure football feedback, Seider also talked with Virginia Tech linebackers coach Cornell Brown, whose Hokies had been flattened by the freshman Shell for 157 yards on 23 carries in 2012.

“Cornell said ‘Man, that son of a gun was the toughest kid we played all year,'” said Seider, who came to view Shell as a low-risk gamble. “I respect those guys’ opinions, and bringing in Rushel didn’t cost us nothing because he walked on first semester.”

As last fall played out and Seider witnessed Shell going from pudgy to punishing while working as a scout-teamer, the coach more fully realized what brand of player WVU added.

“The biggest thing I saw in him was body transition,” Seider said. “He firmed up. He looked like a dude—he looked like that guy who you talked about coming out of high school.”

The dude flashed plenty of moves during the bye week preceding WVU’s season finale, when the coaching staff ceded practice reps to younger players.

“He can do some things that are so natural,” Seider said. “For a big guy, the way he can make jump-cuts, and his feet being as light as they are, he’s special.

“But I also know he’s going to go forward. He’s not going be a guy trying to make somebody miss all the time. He’s going to be a guy who’s going to finish a run.”

Shell’s end-of-run toughness could rub off on talented senior Dreamius Smith, who ran for 545 yards and five touchdowns last season yet danced too much for the coaches’ liking.

“Dreamius still has what we coaches call a lot of ‘basketball’ in him, where Rushel is all football,” Seider said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to be 225 pounds and run right through somebody.”

With Shell and Smith leading a deep contingent of returnees—see sophomore Wendell Smallwood and juniors Dustin Garrison and Andrew Buie—West Virginia’s backfield looks well-stocked for next season. Four-star recruit Donte Thomas-Williams of Durham, N.C., also is scheduled to arrive in summer. And according to Seider, the transfer Shell showed an all-in attitude by playing pitch man to prospects in WVU’s recent signing class.

“He was one of our best recruiters during the offseason, the way he handled kids when they came on official visits,” Seider said. “You’d have thought he never went to Pitt.

“He’s only an hour and a half away from home, but he’s away from those distractions. I think he finally felt like he was at peace with himself.”

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  • bob

    If you don't have a quarterback, what good is a great tailback?

  • Long live the south

    FREE GARRISON AND BUIE these kids are being held hostage !!!!! Rb coach does not like them BUIE All but transferred and they made him come took Garrison a year and a half to get his red shirt. the coaching staff(Rbcoach) does not even acknowledge these young men.... The college game is a business

    • DWM

      I wish someone would have punished my kids by paying their way through college the way Buie and Garrison are being abused.

      Hopefully they are smart enough to realize they have a great opportunity to get a free education and do something great with their lives.

      Neither has the size and or speed for the the next level.

    • Matt M

      That may be the dumbest comment I have read on this board. If they are good, they will play. Plain and simple.

    • Steve

      what is wrong with you?

  • Mark

    Welcome home, Rushel. Now let's get the QB we deserve to go along with the rest of the package.

    • Josh

      The QB we deserve?

      • Jay

        I agree. "Deserve" is the most dangerous word in the English language. Everyone believes they deserve something these days. If the coaches recruit and develop a good quarterback, they will have earned good play at that position. Same for the quarterback. If he earns the job, great. There's no deserve about it.

  • WVcoal

    Shell was a superb pickup. He is going to be a BEAST this year!

  • mad hatter

    why does aaron use my username,,,seems he's actually a marsha troll and tries to make me fight myself, but then again, people on this page understand who he is ,and what he is, and allan has warned me not to tell the truth about him,, so i'll withhold my opinion of him.

  • 1olewvufan

    If I remember correctly, Rushel Shell had fumbling issues at Pitt. He maybe looking good in spring practice, but my question is can he hold on to the ball. At Pitt he turned the ball over at some very critical times, like in the redzone.

    If he starts fumbling at WVU, there is a whole group of talented backs ready to take his place.

    I look for WVU's offense to spread the ball around more than last season, and for it to operate at much faster pace. It is going to be interesting to see who is faster: Mario Alford or Shelton Gibson.

    Go EERs!!!

    • mad hatter

      he's learned his lesson, this guy is an all american in waiting..

      our ground attack will remind us of the good ole days when we were beating up on the worthless teams in the big east, and that included almost the entire league.
      Shell is nfl bound after this yr. if holgie can figure out how to use him..
      I like our OL, and i like shell , smilth ,garrison ,buie, etc.. we will dominate the big 12 and after this season they will wish they had invited louisville.

      • 1olewvufan

        I hope you are right!

  • The Real KeatonsCorner

    I find it cute that Hatter uses my username now.

    However, anyone with a brain can see when I post and when that knuckledragger is impersonating (poorly) me.....

    • mad hatter

      i think it's cute that aaron uses my username

    • mad hatter

      sorry knucklehead, not me, just ask allan

    • Aaron

      I think he's done the same thing to everyone else. I can't imagine ones life ever being so miserable that they have to trash a school, its AD and it's coaches with so many various names and then when made to look foolish, use others screen names as well. This type of obsession is what scares so many people.

      • mad hatter

        now you're talking to yourself,,, sad

  • Aaron

    With the bevy of backs WVU has, will there be a reason to throw the ball more than 20 times a game?

    • Jimmy G

      Yeah, our o-line is a reason we will have to pass more then 20 times a game, their size is going to be a factor in trying to open up running lanes for our stable of RBs.

    • mad hatter

      i concur

  • GoEers

    Very much looking forward to seeing this young man in a WVU uniform and very much looking forward to the 2014 season. Great schedule!

  • pinball wizzard

    can't wait to see him on the field, i just hope our OL is productive enough to give him some room.
    This may be a one and done yr for him, but if so, then that will mean he had a great yr for us...I just hope he stays healthy and burns those defenses.

    • jwg66

      You are absolutely right Pinball. He will need some holes from our OL. But, we will also need productivity from our QB and passing game. If we are one dimensional, the running game could suffer from predictability. I am hoping in a major way for balance next year. If we get that, our backs could be amongst the best we have had.

  • The Great Joe Bob

    I agree with Mike. Our QB play stunk last season, and unless one of the new guys shines, things look dismal there again in the fall. I've been a fan since the mid-60s, win or lose, but I have to call it as I see it. When Marshall's not playing the Eers, I wish them well; they are my brothers.

    • 1olewvufan

      I think Holgorsen and Dawson will agree that the QB play last season was atrocious.

      I think what shocked me most about last years QB play was that it was Paul Millard's 3-year in Holgorsen's offense, and he had played 2-years behind Geno, and yet he couldn't be out Childress. Then there as Childress who didn't really show us anything either with it being is 2nd year in the Holgorsen's offense and having spent a year behind Geno. Trickett's issues I can understand for he didn't arrive until late August.

      My impression of Millard and Childress was that maybe they just didn't put the effort they needed to, when playing behind Geno. I truly believe that when Trickett was brought on-board that this was a wake-up call.

      If you think about it, if Trickett hadn't came on-board then these two were the QBs. They are both from TX, and they were going to play, so why compete against each other. There was really no completion at QB. This season there will be 8-QBs who will be competing. The arrival of William Crest will definitely kick the competition up a notch or two. This competition could be fun to watch.

      • Aaron

        "I think Holgorsen and Dawson will agree that the QB play last season was atrocious."

        252-466-3148 yards 16Td's 16 Int's on an offense that averaged 411 yards per game.

        • 1olewvufan

          Stats are just that stats, for they never tell the whole story, and they have a tendency to hide the truth. Stats don't identify wins or losses they are facts and you can use them anyway you want to manipulate truths and/or falsehoods.

          The 411 yards a game sounds good, but you need to look at how many tackles for loss yardage, passing percentages, dropped passes, bad plays, broken plays, players that ran the wrong route, fumbles, interceptions, etc.

          • Aaron

            You also need to understand that when a defense gives up MORE points than the offense averages, said team ain't gonna win much.

            I was disappointed in Mallard and Childress but not so much with Clint Trickett. While I agree he's no All American, I don't know that the job is automatically Howard's or Crest's for the taking. I'd be surprised if young Mr. Trickett's doesn't rattle come cages.

  • Mountainman

    I've seen this guy play..... and there's no question he's the real deal.

    Glad he's got his personal life straightened out and very glad he's a Mountaineer.

  • Alex

    Good report on Rushel or follow up, haven't heard very much about him since he made his commitment to come to West Virginia and how it was working out. Thanks MetroNews. I feel we will be pretty well satisfied with our running backs this year, although there could be things happen before a12 game season come to an end, just hope all things work out. When coach Holgorsen had his press conference early this week, he looked and acted with confidence, like I have not seen him before. He was a positive confident person. Makes me think he is really feeling good about this team and this season, (like more wins) hope so ..Hope it rubs off on the rest of the team.

  • Mister Man

    I am looking forward to seeing Mr. Shell on the field.

  • pghmountaineer

    This kid is going to exciting to watch. He's Noel Devine and Steve Slaton wrapped into one running back. I can't wait.

    • Mike

      I totally agree. Not too much excites me about 2014, except Shell. He seems to be the real deal. I just wish our QB situation looked as good as the RB position. I'd be doing cartwheels!

      • Truthteller

        Just except that Marshall is WVU's little brother. WVU 12-0 against Marshall do I need to say more? If you were born in WV and you are not for WVU then maybe you need to move out of the state. There is only one real deal University in WV and that is WVU. End of story. Check yourself Mikey

        • jiggy

          You know when a Mountaineer has no argument for their sinking football program when they bring up Marshall. Get real, losers, Marshall has nothing to do with the poor state of OL and DH.

          • Aaron

            What does offensive linemen and defensive hitters have to do with anything?

          • KeatonsCorner

            True jiggy, We do not want Marshall fans in here...They mess everything up.

          • pinball wizzard

            marsha and their fans suck

          • KeatonsCorner


            I am looking for WVU win 10 games and go to a major bowl. Coach Holgorsen has turned things around and unlike you, we should win our conference

            Yes it is true we do not like Marshall. And even though we constantly promote WVU, we talk trash about Marshall to divert attention away from our imperfections.

            Marshall is just the perfect scape goat to blame our losses on.

            Sorry, but it is what it is.

        • Mike

          I love being a Mountaineer until I run into idiots like you.

          • ole sasquatch

            Hman - you are right on target.

          • Aaron


          • Hman

            I think, that ole Skyler Howard may surprise a bunch of you naysayers before it is over

      • Mike

        Mike Why not go back to the MU board where you belong.

        • TedJ

          You're probably the one wearing green. Crawl back in your hole.

        • Mike495400

          I've been a Mountaineer fan for more than 50 years and an alumni for more than 35. You and Truthteller (what a joke) can go stick it. EERS have been an average team for two years - less than average - so not having much too get excited about is pretty reasonable. You guys need to get a grip, little unbalanced there.

          • Wow

            Mike, the good thing is these people don't run this site, so you can say what you want.
            Sounds to me like thy need some tissues to dry their eyes.

          • KeatonsCorner


            Anyone who does not make a positive and pro WVU comment, we automatically accuse them of being a Marshall Troll. And we don't care if they are WVU grads...

            This way we keep all those people run off and we only hear positive WVU comments.

            So if you got accused, please understand the reason...

            We only allow positive comments here.