MORGANTOWN, W.Va–Rushel Shell is on a mission this fall and that mission is to become the best running back in the Big 12.
“I am trying to be the best back in the Big 12,” Shell said. “I feel like I got all the right things to do it. It’s just up to me how hard I want to work and how hard I want to run.”
Last season Shell started in eight games for the Mountaineers. He was West Virginia’s leading rusher with 176 carries for 788 yards and seven touchdowns. Shell also had 21 catches for 140 yards.
The Hopewell, Pa. native transferred to WVU in 2013 but redshirted to fulfill NCAA transfer requirements. Shell was the backup for Ray Graham at Pitt in 2012, where he rushed for 641 yards and four touchdowns as a true freshman.
Now, the 5-foot-11, 221-pound back is ready to make his mark in a Mountaineer uniform. He has lost weight and gained the life skills necessary to make that happen.
“Every day I am trying to get better,” Shell said. “We got like three weeks, I feel like there is a lot of time for me to improve and a lot of things I want to improve.”
Determination is on of the key factors that the junior running back believes will make him the best in the conference.
“Determination,” he said.” There’s a lot of great backs in this conference. It is just something you got to feed off of and want it more than they do.”
When Shell came into the program, head coach Dana Holgorsen depended on a passing game, but that has changed.
“When I first came in, it was the Air-Raid and they liked to spread it out and gun it down the field and not really run the ball,” Shell said. “But I feel coach Holgorsen changes it up a lot with me, Wendell (Smallwood) and Donte (Thomas-Williams).
“I feel like he is a little more run heavy than he has ever really been. I feel like that is going to be the difference between our team and other teams in the Big 12.”
Shell also feels he now has a better understanding of the offense.
“I am more comfortable in the shotgun now,” he said. “I’m used to coming out of the A and B formation. I’m a lot more knowledgeable at blitz pickups. I think that is something that I focused on this offseason. I want to be a back that can block, and I feel as if that is my biggest difference.”
When asked which player has the best hands in the backfield right now, running backs JaJuan Seider didn’t hesitate to answer “Rushel.”
“Rushel got really good hands,”Seider said. “He can catch everything thrown to him.”
Like some of the other great backs in Mountaineer history, Shell has the heart to get to the top. The playing time is there, the speed is there, the toughness is there. Now, all Shell has to do is show he is the best.