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Gorman: Shell will sell Pitt to WPIAL recruits

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Chaz Palla | Tribune Review
Pitt running back Rushel Shell runs past Temple's Justin Gildea on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, at Heinz Field.
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Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, 10:34 p.m.

Not much prodding is needed to get Rushel Shell to dish on his daydream of playing on a Pitt team where the tailback is surrounded by fellow Western Pennsylvania stars.

When Shell picked Pitt a year ago, the former Hopewell great promised to become the Panthers' top recruiter and bring the best of the WPIAL with him.

“The thing I think most about is, the WPIAL has a lot of athletes,” Shell said. “I feel like if a lot more of us stay home, Pitt will be like it was when Dorsett was here.

“That's how it was back in the day. It was all WPIAL guys. They built everything around them. I feel like that could happen again.”

Shell stuck to his commitment through a coaching change last December and was joined by Fox Chapel offensive tackle Adam Bisnowaty, Clairton cornerback Trenton Coles, Shaler tight end J.P. Holtz and Sto-Rox linebacker Deaysean Rippy in the Class of 2012.

Despite enduring constant comparisons to Tony Dorsett — the 1976 Heisman Trophy winner who not only played at Hopewell but whose name adorns its football stadium — Shell didn't shy away from following in his footsteps by picking the Panthers.

It's not lost on Shell that Blackhawk junior quarterback Chandler Kincade also picked Pitt despite being called the next Dan Marino.

“You want to be compared to the best,” Shell said. “It's motivation to be the best.”

If Shell wants to be the best at Pitt, he's going to need talented teammates.

Shell imagines running the ball behind an offensive line anchored by Bisnowaty and Belle Vernon tackle Dorian Johnson, flanked by Holtz at tight end with Clairton's Tyler Boyd and Central Valley's Robert Foster as playmaking receivers.

With Boyd, Foster and Johnson making official visits to Pitt this weekend — Shell was to serve as Foster's host — the Panthers prepared to throw their best pitch. And Shell was ready to shill for Pitt, serving as salesman and spokesman.

Shell played against Foster and Johnson in high school and has watched Boyd play multiple times. Where Shell, Bisnowaty and Coles teamed to keep their class together last winter, they now could play important roles in helping to lure the trio of WPIAL standouts to Pitt.

“I look at it as we've got a game this weekend, a game we've got to win,” Shell said. “We've got to land these guys. They could change a lot of things as freshmen.”

Spoken like someone who knows exactly what it means.

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