An already interesting offseason just got a little more intriguing.
Pittsburgh Panthers running back Rushel Shell, a former 5-star recruit, has decided to leave Pitt, according to Gregg Giannotti of 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, and later confirmed by PantherLair.com
Got it on good authority that Rushel Shell filled out his papers and #pitt should be releasing a statement tomorrow.— Gregg Giannotti (@937Giannotti) April 1, 2013
Don't know where he wants to go or both sides of the story just was told that papers are filled out.— Gregg Giannotti (@937Giannotti) April 1, 2013
Just confirmed @937giannotti's report: After mulling it over for the last few days, Rushel Shell has decided to leave #Pitt.— Chris Peak (@PantherLair) April 2, 2013
As a true freshman last season, Shell played in 12 games as the backup to starter Ray Graham. Shell ran 141 times for 641 yards (4.5 yards-per-carry) and four touchdowns, while catching nine passes for 103 yards. His best game was a 157-yard effort against Virginia Tech, a unit that finished 18th in the nation in defense. With Graham departing, it was widely expected that Shell would take over as the Panthers' feature back.
Over the last several days, with Shell sitting out of Pitt's spring practices fueling rumors of his departure, he has been extensively linked to Arizona State. Shell was recruited to Pitt while current Sun Devil head coach Todd Graham was still the head coach.
In the wake of Graham's sudden departure to ASU in December of 2011, Shell was outspoken in his desire to stay with Pitt:
Todd graham man u quit on a team that's about to take off ha it don't matter who the coach is PITT is on the uprise #h2p were a family!!!!!!— Rushel Shell (@RushelShell) December 15, 2011
That sentiment has now changed a little over a year later. Shell has been linked not only to ASU, but has been said to favor schools in California as well as Arizona.
Shell brings a top-notch combination of size and speed to the field. He checks in at 6-feet and 215 pounds, and has been timed in the mid-4.4s in the 40, giving him the speed to be a scoring threat on every touch. Shell also has outstanding vision and patience, allowing him to hit the hole at the right time.
An addition of Shell would solidify the future of the Sun Devil backfield. ASU has not had a running back in two out of the last three recruiting classes, a need sorely addressed with Shell's three years of remaining eligibility. He would likely use his redshirt to sit out in 2013 per NCAA rules, but would be in line become a major factor in 2014 once Marion Grice leaves, potentially creating a lethal 1-2 punch with D.J. Foster.
This is certainly a situation that bears watching over the coming days and weeks.