-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)
Aliquippa (PA) Hopewell running back Rushel Shell has committed to the University of Pittsburgh. Shell is head coach Todd Graham’s 18th verbal commitment for the class of 2012.
Shell, a 5-foot-11, 215 tailback, is the No. 3 rated runner in the Athlon Consensus 100 and is the No. 17 overall prospect in America. However, Shell is much bigger and more powerful than Keith Marshall (AC100 No. 9) and Jonathan Gray (AC100 No. 6) and may be a more complete player who is better suited for a three-down work load.
The Hopewell High prospect – which is located roughly 30 minutes from the Pittsburgh campus – is arguably the most prolific runner in Pennsylvania prep history. Shell entered his senior season with 29 consecutive 100-yard games and early in the season he became the WPIAL’s all-time leading rusher (he currently sits at 7,827 yards). He has a chance to pass Steelton-Highspire Jeremiah Young’s 9,027 yards as the Keystone State’s all-time leading high school rusher. Shell currently has rushed for 1,059 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2011.
Shell is following the lead of fellow Western Pennsylvania legend Tony Dorsett. The Hall of Fame running back played at Hopewell High and in 1973 choose to play his college ball for the Pitt Panthers. Shell runs the football every Friday night in a stadium featuring Dorsett’s name high atop the marquee.
Shell cited the high-octane offense coach Graham employs and that watching Ray Graham definitely influenced his decision. Being able to play close to home with friends and family was also a key for Shell.
The talented tailback says he picked Pitt over Alabama (despite never actually taking an official visit to Tuscaloosa) and that Ohio State would have been his favorite had Jim Tressel not resigned amidst NCAA allegations.
View an in-depth scouting report and video of Rushel Shell here