Rushel Shell would like to come back to Pitt.
Coach Paul Chryst doesn’t want him.
Shell, a Hopewell High product, ditched Pitt in April and headed to UCLA. But Shell, the father of twin daughters living locally, changed his mind. That doesn’t matter to Chryst, who has reportedly told Shell he is not welcome back.
Shell would have been Pitt’s starter. The Panthers will likely enter their first ACC football season with junior Isaac Bennett and sophomore Malcolm Crockett topping the depth chart at RB. They have 24 collegiate carries between them.
Shell (6-foot-2, 220 pounds) had 641 yards and four touchdowns as a true freshman last season. Bennett and Crockett are a significant downgrade.
Chryst’s decision can’t be faulted. Shell is not a good citizen. Bad work ethic. Stories abound. Shell’s two-step between schools speaks to his unreliability.
If Chryst wants to make a statement and stamp his authority on Pitt, mission accomplished. Chryst, heading into his second season, is still wiping up blood in the wake of the program’s embarrassing three-year coaching-go-round.
But Shell is a big-time running back. Pitt badly needs a back of that caliber to compete in the ACC. Chryst told his best rusher he can’t play.
Chances are Shell’s act won’t change. It’s a better bet to grow older, and even more tired. If he wants to stay local, why not go to Cal or IUP? That’s probably where Shell is ultimately headed, anyway. Trouble trickles down.
Tough call. But Chryst got it right.