Former Pittsburgh running back Rushel Shell formally announced his transfer to West Virginia University on Friday, ending the long, drawn-out saga of his courtship.
Per Brett McMurphy of ESPN.com:
Former Pittsburgh running back Rushel Shell will transfer to West Virginia, Shell told ESPN on Friday. Shell visited West Virginia on Monday and chose the Mountaineers over Kentucky.
"Things went really well down at WVU," Shell said. "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."
The leading rusher in Pennsylvania high school history (and a former 5-star recruit on 247Sports' composite), Shell was in store for a big role had he stayed at Pittsburgh this season. As a true freshman in 2012, he was second on the Panthers with 641 rushing yards on 141 carries. And with the departure of senior Ray Graham, those numbers were set to go up.
But Shell announced his intent to leave the program in April, initially declaring that he would move to UCLA. He never enrolled in the Pac-12 school, though, and later had second thoughts about moving across the country.
According to Jerry DiPaola of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, the interests of his twin 17-month-old daughters, Amiyah and Arionna, was a big part of that reversal.
Shell will have to sit out the 2013 season but will have three years of eligibility remaining when he takes the field in Morgantown. The Mountaineers should be able to bridge the gap without him, having also secured a transfer commitment from former Houston running back Charles Sims.
Sims, who gained over 4,000 yards in three years at Houston, comes to West Virginia as a highly touted graduate student—a special status that made him immediately eligible in 2013. He'll leave after this season, though, clearing the way for Shell to become a feature back.
Head coach Dana Holgorsen was in desperate need of playmakers this offseason, having lost Geno Smith, Tavon Austin and Steadman Bailey to the NFL draft in April.
The passing game is a work in progress and will be a major question mark going forward. But the work Holgorsen has done in acquiring high-upside running backs should help aid that rebuilding.
Plus, even with Pittsburgh leaving the Big East, this throws some much-needed fuel on the once-bright Backyard Brawl fire.