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Pittsburgh confirms RB Rushel Shell's plans to transfer

By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer

Rushel Shell has decided to transfer from Pittsburgh. (USATSI)
Rushel Shell has decided to transfer from Pittsburgh. (USATSI)

Rushel Shell, the former five-star running back prospect from Aliquippa, Pa., has decided to transfer from Pittsburgh, Panthers coach Paul Chryst confirmed on Tuesday.

"Rushel and I met on Tuesday morning, and he informed me of his final decision to transfer," Chryst said. "I wish him only the best moving forward. Out of respect for Rushel, his family and his privacy, this will be my final comment on the matter."

Chryst announced last Thursday that Shell is "working through some challenges right now" and would take some time away from spring practice. While transfer rumors were swirling at the time, Shell was still officially a member of the football team.

Shell rushed for 641 yards and four touchdowns on just 141 carries as a freshman in 2012. With starting running back Ray Graham graduated, many Pitt fans were looking forward to seeing the former Pennsylvania high school star join Chryst in leading the Panthers to the ACC. It was Shell, after all, who worked to keep the 2012 signing class together after Todd Graham left Pittsburgh to become the coach at Arizona State. Despite the coaching change, Shell picked the Panthers over Alabama, Auburn, Florida and Florida State.

No specifics on Shell's plans have been announced, though it has been suggested that the highly-touted running back could reunite with Graham at Arizona State. It is a safe bet that Shell will be prohibited from relocating to any ACC schools, possibly getting blocked from schools on the future schedule as well (Notre Dame, Penn State). Other Pac-12 schools have been mentioned as possible landing spots, but nothing is certain.

Pitt's offensive staff already faces the challenge of reshuffling the offensive line and finding a replacement for three-year starter Tino Sunseri at quarterback. Shell's absence leaves the Panthers without a proven playmaker in the offensive backfield. It is likely that Isaac Bennett and Malcolm Crockett would compete for the starting job. Bennett has an experience advantage on Crockett with 87 career carries for 378 yards. Crockett, a redshirt sophomore, appeared in just two games and totaled 12 carries in 2012.

Pitt concludes spring practice with its spring game at Bethel Park High on April 12. For more, check out the Panthers' Spring Practice Primer.

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