Pitt's Shell uses his family as motivation to succeed
By Bob Cohn
Published: Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, 6:20 p.m.
Motivation comes in many forms.
For Pitt's Rushel Shell, it goes beyond an athlete's typical drive to succeed, has little relevance to the suspension that caused him to miss the first game of the season and has no bearing to living up to the massive hype he generated as the state's most celebrated high school running back, perhaps ever.
What motivates Shell the most hits much closer to home.
“I have two daughters. I've got to support 'em. I'm running for my life out there,” the first-year freshman said after his 23-carry, 157-yard demolition of 13th-ranked Virginia Tech in Pitt's 35-17 upset victory Saturday at Heinz Field.
Shell's twin daughters, Arionna and Amiyah, are 6 months old, a little young to be following college football. But one day, they will hear all about their dad, playing in his second college game and barely out of Hopewell High School, ran around, through and frequently over what is traditionally a stout, top-flight defense.
“Rushel, he don't play like a freshman,” said senior Ray Graham, who split the running duties with Shell.
“This was definitely a big confidence-booster,” Shell said.
“It shows me I can excel at this level. I just got to keep working hard and not really take this to my head and not think, ‘Oh yeah, I did this and I did that.' It's ‘What am I gonna do next?' ”
Shell's Pitt career was delayed a week when he and five teammates were suspended by coach Paul Chryst for unspecified infractions just before the Panthers' opening-night loss to FCS-school Youngstown State two weeks ago.
Whatever prompted the discipline, Shell, who ran for just 34 yards in last week's loss to Cincinnati, said he got the message and learned a few things.
“I learned I'm young, made a mistake, don't let the mistake happen again,” he said. “Every day improve and don't let the negativity bring you down.”
Listed at 6-foot, 215 pounds, Shell does not have blazing speed but is fast enough, as football people like to say. He showed that against Virginia Tech, but the Hokies are more likely to recall Shell's nasty, physical side and how he bowled over and swatted aside would-be tacklers like they were practice dummies.
“You've got to deliver the blow so they don't come up and hit you,” he said.
With 16 carries for 103 yards in the second half, Shell seemed to get stronger as he and Graham helped Pitt protect its lead and its quarterback, Tino Sunseri, who suffered a fourth-quarter leg injury but remained in the game.
“I feel like that's how I always play, even in high school,” said Shell, who chose Pitt over Alabama and several other high-profile programs. “I might come out slow in the beginning, but the end is when I play at my best. That's when I guess I figure everything out and just go.”
Bob Cohn is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7810.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.