Rushel Shell on UCLA visit: 'I love it'
[dropcap]F[/dropcap]ormer Pitt running back Rushel Shell visited UCLA on Friday.
In the early morning hours Saturday, he tweeted, “All I gotta say is I love it.”
Shell, who announced his intention to transfer on April 2, initially requested permission to transfer to either UCLA, Cal, Arizona or Arizona State. Pitt blocked him from Arizona and Arizona State.
Sources indicate that, both Shell and Cal decided that a transfer there was not a fit, making UCLA his most likely destination.
It has been reported that Pitt blocked the transfer to Arizona State because of the bad blood between the school and former head coach Todd Graham, and Arizona because it holds a grudge against Rich Rodriguez from his time at West Virginia. Not true, according to sources close to the program.
According to the source, the real reason is that both the current Arizona State an Arizona coaching staffs have ties to the Pitt program and current players, and Pitt is concerned that releasing Shell to go to either school could open the door for other Panthers players to reconnect with former coaches on either staff. Last year, Pitt released cornerback Lloyd Carrington to transfer to Arizona State because it’s closer to his Dallas home.
Graham was Pittsburgh’s coach when Shell verbally committed to the Panthers back in October 2011. A week before Shell announced his intention to transfer, Arizona State defensive back Damarious Randall tweeted a note congratulating Shell on becoming a Sun Devil. At that point, Pitt’s Paul Chryst had not explained why Shell was being held out of practice, and the tweet sent Panthers fans into a frenzy.
Current Arizona assistants Calvin Magee and Tony Dews were members of Graham’s Pittsburgh staff. Magee, Arizona’s co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach, was the Panthers’ running backs coach and Shell’s lead recruiter for Pitt. Dews, now the Wildcats’ wide receivers coach, was Pitt’s tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator in 2011.
Shell was No. 1 on the Pitt depth chart through the first six practice sessions this spring. He pulled himself from drills March 22 with a undisclosed leg injury and never returned. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Shell was unhappy with “how the coaching staff was handling him.”
The Aliquippa, Pa. native was one of the nation’s most highly-recruited running backs in 2012, and chose the Panthers over Alabama. He rushed for 641 yards as a freshman playing behind then-senior Ray Graham.
Photo credit: Matt Freed / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette