High School Football

Assistant: Shell’s early exit vs. Frogs due to sprained ankle ‘freezing up’

TCU’s Chris Hackett forces a fumble by West Virginia’s Wendell Smallwood.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Rushel Shell’s second-half absence against TCU was attributable to his sprained ankle “freezing up” and not tied to losing a fumble, running backs coach JaJuan Seider said Tuesday.

“A healthy Rushel Shell would’ve been on the field a lot,” the assistant said.

Shell went down early in the win over Baylor on Oct. 18 and was held out at Oklahoma State a week later. He returned with eight carries for 35 yards in the 31-30 loss to TCU but didn’t see action after fumbling at the end of a 14-yard run in the second quarter.

“He gave us great energy in the first half, but I thought the longer he sat, the worse that ankle was going to get,” Seider said. “Like it was going to start freezing up. So I didn’t want him to go out there and force something that might set him back for another two weeks.

“I don’t want to risk setting this kid back with an injury when I had other guys who could get the job done.”

Fellow running back Wendell Smallwood has been coping with an ankle injury that also occurred against Baylor, though it’s not as severe as Shell’s. He ran for 132 yards on 23 carries at Oklahoma State but settled for 64 yards on 15 attempts against TCU.

“Before the Oklahoma State game he didn’t practice all week, but modern medicine’s pretty good on gamedays with helping you play through some things,” Seider said.

Like Shell, Smallwood’s role also diminished drastically against TCU after a first-half fumble.

“To get those two back healthy will be good for our offense and let us play the way we want to play,” Seider said.

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