By Bob Hertzel
Times West Virginian
As if you needed any further proof than West Virginia University moving to the Big 12 and Pitt to the Atlantic Coast Conference that the Backyard Brawl is dead, it came Friday when the man who was penciled in as Pitt’s starting running back for the coming season, Rushel Shell, has transferred to WVU.
There was a time when that would lead to contract being taken out on you in Pittsburgh, but no more.
Shell, Pennsylvania’s all-time leading high school rusher out of Hopewell, visited WVU on Monday and Tuesday of this week and told ESPN on Friday evening he had to become a Mountaineer.
He also considered Kentucky but did not visit there after being impressed by WVU.
“Things went really well down at WVU,’’ Shell told ESPN.com. “I enjoyed every moment of it. We toured the campus and facilities and I got a chance to hang out with other recruits and players on the team.
“They made my visit terrific and made me feel like family.’’
Shell will sit out this season.
A year ago he was backup to starter Ray Graham and finished as the second-leading rusher on the Panthers, gaining 641 yards with four touchdowns on 141 carries. He was supposed to start this year but decided to transfer after six spring practices.
He originally said he was transferring to UCLA but changed his mind, saying he’d made a mistake and wanted to stay close to his twin daughters.
Pitt coach Paul Chryst, who had given him his release, refused to accept him back.
Shell is the second highly regarded running back to transfer to WVU this summer. Charles Sims, who graduated at Houston with a year of eligibility remaining, is currently enrolled in school and eligible to play this season.
The Mountaineers could also potentially have a starting quarterback this season who transferred this summer. Clint Trickett, who graduated at Florida State, is enrolled and eligible for two years.
Email Bob Hertzel at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @bhertzel.