Rushel Shell knows what it is like to be the big man in an offensive set.
At Hopewell High School near Pittsburgh, Shell set rushing records that still stand in the state of Pennsylvania. He was the biggest prospect to come out of Hopewell since NFL legend Tony Dorsett.
Now, Shell has the opportunity to make a big name for himself on the national level.
After starting his collegiate career at Pitt, Shell has been established in Morgantown for the past three seasons. The 2015 and 2014 seasons allowed him redeem himself after transferring out of Pitt following the 2012 season.
With the Panthers and Mountaineers, Shell has served as the primary back up to a top-flight rusher. At Pitt, he was the No. 2 guy behind Ray Graham, who appeared briefly with the NFL’s Houston Texans. These past two seasons, Shell has performed behind Wendell Smallwood, who is seeing his draft stock rise each day.
A few months ago, Shell filed paperwork to check on his professional progress, but has since rescinded the move and opted to return to West Virginia for his senior season. His junior numbers were hardly even sixth round material, so this is his chance to improve and build for the Mountaineers. Beyond this season, Shell certainly has the means to make it to the NFL.
At WVU this season, he will be getting a strong number of carries and he must make the most of each one.
Shell was the team’s leading rusher in 2013, his first with WVU, as he ran for 788 yards. Last year, he was second to Smallwood, who led the Big 12 in rushing, with 708 yards.
He obviously saw a slight decline in overall production, but that will rise this year.
Shell will surely top 1,000 yards and he has a shot at reaching 2,000.
The Mountaineers will run the ball more in 2016 than they did in 2015.
Last season, WVU kept it on the ground for 622 plays and passed the ball for 232 plays.
The offense will be more balanced this season, but Shell will be seeing more of the carries. The depth at running back is shrinking. In head coach Dana Holgorsen’s most recent media session, he declared that junior Jacky Marcellus will be transferring out of the program.
Marcellus only played in four games with the Mountaineers, but he added a nice cushion in case someone ahead of him on the depth chart went down with an injury.
Shell doesn’t plan on going down at all this season. This is his last chance to live up to the lofty expectations that he created for himself back in high school. He will be “the man” for the Mountaineers. Down the road, he will continue to be “the man” for his family as he makes the big bucks in the NFL.
But to get to that point, he’ll have to dominate in his senior year at WVU. Holgorsen will give him the chances, he just needs to capitalize.