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WVU lineman Clarke thinks Shell would be good fit

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Monday, July 1, 2013, 10:45 p.m.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — When and if former Pitt running back Rushel Shell visits West Virginia as a possible new destination, senior defensive end Will Clarke said he has a message for the Hopewell graduate.

“I've seen some of his high school games. I watched him a little bit in college his freshman year. From what I've seen, he's a good running back. It'd be good to have another addition to the team,” said Clarke, who starred at Allderdice and will enter his third year as a starter with the Mountaineers.

“I would accept him, with him being a Pittsburgh guy,” Clarke said Monday.

Shell, who set the state high school rushing record with 9,078 career yards, is considering West Virginia, Ohio State and Kentucky, said his mother, Toni Zuccaro.

Zuccaro told the Tribune-Review last week that Shell — who signed with Pitt and rushed for 641 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman last season before requesting a transfer — hoped to visit West Virginia this week. Zuccaro added that Shell has been in contact with WVU first-year assistant Tony Gibson, who recruited Shell when Gibson was an assistant at Pitt.

After leaving Pitt, Shell decided to attend UCLA before changing his mind recently. Zuccaro said Shell settled on WVU, Ohio State and Kentucky after Pitt coach Paul Chryst rebuffed his request to rejoin the Panthers.

“I would say, definitely, if he chose to come to West Virginia — being that it's a college town opposed to a city atmosphere — a lot of the time he'll be going out with us, the team,” said Clarke. “It'll be a good opportunity for him to bond with his teammates because we do a lot of team things outside the stadium.”

If Shell decides to attend West Virginia, he wouldn't be eligible until 2014. A year from now, WVU's top three running backs — Andrew Buie, Dustin Garrison and junior college transfer Dreamius Smith — would be seniors.

WVU recently added running back Charles Sims, a transfer from Houston who immediately will be eligible for his senior year.

“I would just tell him there's an opportunity for him to come here and work hard, play hard and play smart,” Clarke said of Shell. “I would tell him the expectations we have; he just has to represent Pittsburgh well. We have a lot of talented guys already, but the more help, the better.”

John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @JHarris_Trib.

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