Pitt secures local star Rushel Shell

ESPNU 150 running back Rushel Shell (Aliquippa, Pa./Hopewell) announced his commitment to the Panthers Friday morning.

The 5-foot-11, 215-pound four-star prospect selected Pittsburgh over Alabama. Shell also considered Ohio State, Florida, North Carolina and Oregon earlier in the process. Auburn, Penn State, Virginia, West Virginia and Tennessee were among his other offers.

ESPN's Billy Tucker commented on Shell's decision: "This is a significant accomplishment for Pitt to land one of the top all-time rushers in the history of the state, particularly since they had hit a dry spell on retaining top in-state prospects and are not off to a strong start on the field in 2011. Shell is a guy the Panthers can ride, like they successfully did with former Doak Walker Award candidate Dion Lewis; the 215-pound prep legend should not have to come off the field much during his career as a Panther."

"Shell is a big, every-down runner who can handle the load and also catch the ball out of the backfield which fits into Todd Graham’s offensive system. He has carried the load for close to 8,000 yards already in his career showing great durability and workhorse type qualities which he should carry onto college. He has college size right now and the overall ability to add a nice complementary punch to current Panther leading rusher Ray Graham in 2012. "

"Aside from a strong power-base and ability to break first contact, Shell has good lateral agility the shiftiness to avoid through the hole which has helped him avoid a lot of punishment throughout his career. He can get outside with above average speed, make yards on his own between the tackles and is just a well-rounded back who the Panthers could lean on to help turn the program around."

Pittsburgh now has 18 Class of 2012 commitments and could push for a spot in ESPNU’s top 25 class rankings.

Hopewell plays Central Valley (Monaca, Pa.) Friday night at 6 p.m. ET on ESPNU.