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Rushel Shell on UCLA visit: 'I love it here in Los Angeles'

By Chip Patterson | College Football/Basketball Writer
Former Pitt RB Rushel Shell visited UCLA over the weekend. (USATSI)
Former Pitt RB Rushel Shell visited UCLA over the weekend. (USATSI)

Former Pittsburgh running back Rushel Shell is in the process of choosing a new school after announcing his intentions to transfer from the Panthers' program. Over the weekend Shell visited UCLA, and the highly touted running back might be close to making a decision.

Shell visited UCLA's spring practice Saturday, getting a chance to watch the Bruins in action and speak with former Bruins running back Johnathan Franklin. According to the Los Angeles Times, Franklin explained how things were different under second-year head coach Jim Mora.

"He was telling me about the program -- how it's about to take off," Shell said. "He said this is going to be big-time under [Coach Jim] Mora."

Shell reportedly told the Los Angeles Times Times that he would make his decision soon -- "maybe today, maybe tomorrow," Shell said. Ever since the initial rumors of Shell's transfer began, Pac-12 schools have been at the top of his reported wish list. Pittsburgh has reportedly blocked Shell from transferring to Arizona State (to rejoin former Pitt coach Todd Graham) or Arizona (with former Pitt assistant Calvin Magee, the co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach under Graham), but UCLA should have no issues signing Shell if he chooses the Bruins.

Shell rushed for 641 yards as a backup to Ray Graham in 2012, and was expected to take over as the feature of Paul Chryst's offense in 2013. He set a Pennsylvania state record for career rushing yards at Aliquippa (Pa.) Hopewell High, but did not appear uncomfortable when discussing the scenery at UCLA.

"I love it here in Los Angeles," Shell said. "This whole environment is great."

Shell will have to sit out 2013 but will have three years of eligibility remaining. The Bruins have Jordan James, Paul Perkinsand Steven Manfro in a competition to replace Franklin at running back, but the addition of Shell could give UCLA the every-down running back it was able to lean on in Franklin a year ago.

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