Reporting Jeff Hathhorn
PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — Pitt sophomore running back Rushel Shell is still considering leaving the Pitt program and head coach Paul Chryst is giving him time to think about it.
The university released a statement today. “Like many college freshmen, Rushel is working through some challenges right now. As it is for all members of our team, my most important concern is his personal well-being. Rushel and his family have our full support. We are giving him time away from football to work through this situation but he very much remains a part of our family on a daily basis. We want to be sensitive and respectful of Rushel, and I would ask others to do the same.”
Shell is expected to be the center of their offense this year after rushing for 641 yards and 4 touchdowns as a true freshman in 2012.
“We know he’s considering it and we know he’s pretty much set on it,” PantherLair.com’s Chris Peak told Starkey, Miller and Mueller on 93-7 The Fan. “It’s that next step of putting in the papers.”
Shell missed Tuesday’s workouts as Pitt head coach Paul Chryst told reporters it was “an excused absence.”
Chryst added Shell had a couple of things to work through.
“I think there are some issues possibly with teammates,” Peak said. “I think there are some issues with coaches and some issues with Rushel Shell himself. I don’t know to this point in his college career if his work ethic is what it needs to be, maybe you can draw some conclusions after that.”
The all-time leading rusher in Pennsylvania history with 9,078 yards and a WPIAL record 110 touchdowns while at Hopewell High School, Shell committed to Pitt over Alabama in 2011 when Todd Graham was still head coach.
Shell was suspended for the team’s opening game in 2012 for violating team rules.
“I don’t know if he felt fully comfortable with what he was being asked to do,” Peak added. “Not in terms of the offense, but in terms with obligations with what student athletes have. I think it’s a big confluence of things which lead to him not wanting to be here.”
Shell is expected to be the center of the Panthers offense in 2013 and if he leaves, junior Isaac Bennett would be the starting tailback with sophomore Malcolm Crockett as the back-up.
“These two guys don’t have the high-end talent that Shell has,” Peak said. “Taking that kind of talent out of the offense is a blow.