By Zac Ellis
A former Pittsburgh running back is close to finding a new home. Rushel Shell, the tailback who opted to transfer from the Panthers earlier this year, has reportedly narrowed his list of preferred destinations to West Virginia, Ohio State and Kentucky, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Reports surfaced in April that Shell was seeking a transfer to UCLA, but he had a change of heart earlier this month. Toni Zuccaro, Shell's mother, told the Post-Gazette that Shell's family eventually caused him to change his mind about playing far away from Pennsylvania.
Zuccaro, giving the family's first public comments since Shell decided in April to transfer from Pitt, said her son's decision to not go to UCLA was prompted by a going-away party the family threw for him on Father's Day. Shell spent the day with his family and 16-month-old twin daughters and, the next day, came to his mother and told her he wanted to stay closer to home.
The Los Angeles Times reported on Monday that Shell had decided to return to the Panthers, but Pitt coaches closed the door on that option this week. Zuccaro said Pitt head coach Paul Chryst would not return Shell's calls or text messages when the player reached out to Chryst.
After a couple of days in limbo, Shell and his mother found out Pitt would not allow him to return when they saw a report on the news.
"It was a little frustrating when coach Chryst wouldn't answer his calls or his text messages," Zuccaro said.
Shell originally sought a transfer to Arizona or Arizona State, but Pitt blocked those destinations, so Shell selected UCLA. Zuccaro said her son hopes to visit West Virginia, Ohio State and Kentucky this summer before making a decision before fall camp. Shell entered spring practice as Pitt’s starting running back after rushing for 641 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman in 2012. A four-star prospect out of Hopewell High in Aliquippa, Pa. — the same high school that former Pitt legend Tony Dorsett once attended — Shell originally elected to attend Pittsburgh over the likes of Alabama and Ohio State. Shell set a state record with 9,078 career rushing yards in high school.