Hopewell's Shell named Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Boys Athlete of the Year

| Saturday, June 30, 2012, 10:42 p.m.

rushel shell

Hopewell · senior · football

It's not always easy to live up to the hype, let alone do it for four years.

Rushel Shell thrived on it.

Few high school football careers could compare to the recent Hopewell graduate's. The most heavily recruited and scrutinized player to come out of the WPIAL since Jeannette's Terrell Pryor, the running back's final act as a prep prodigy saw one landmark record fall after another.

In carrying the Class AAA Vikings to the postseason, Shell ran for 2,132 yards and 28 touchdowns. He finished his career with 9,078 yards, good enough to break the WPIAL record held by Fort Cherry's Mike Vernillo and the state mark owned by Steelton-Highspire's Jeremiah Young.

The speedster's 39 consecutive 100-yard games broke a national record set in 1975 by Billy Sims, a Heisman winner at Oklahoma and former No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft.

Off the field, Shell ended a closely monitored recruitment by staying close to home at Pitt — where's he's already begun classes and workouts. His life changed even more Feb. 18 when he became the father of twin daughters, Arionna and Amiyah.

It was a whirlwind season and a career that won't soon be forgotten, and now Shell is the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Boys Athlete of the Year.

Have you had a chance to reflect on everything you accomplished in high school?

“Now that my career is over, I'm actually pretty proud of myself. I think I did a lot of great things and put my name in the history books. Now, I'm back to level one, and I'm trying to climb back to the top.”

Was it tough dealing with the pressure of chasing the records, recruiting, learning you'd become a father?

“Throughout my career, I didn't take it as pressure, I used it as motivation. I was just being a team player and wasn't worried about getting my name up there. I was trying to get a team championship.”

What are your first impressionsof college life?

“The experience of college is different. It makes you realize you have to be mature. There's no one to pat you on the back, tell you to get to class. Everything is on you.”

You were recruited by the old Pitt coaching staff, so what are your impressions of the new one under Paul Chryst?

“The transition wasn't a big deal for me. I was committed to the university. This staff is more about action, not talk. They're going to show you something and be about it.”

What will make your freshmanseason a success?

“Seeing the field, but I've got to prove to the coaches and the upperclassmen that I'm mature enough to be up there, and I can make an impact.”

What will be the biggest adjustment you have to make at the college level?

“You can never be perfect. There's always room to be more perfect. Right now, I'm just trying to improve my speed and my strength.”

How has fatherhood changed you?

“Becoming a father, it changed me, made me more mature. Anytime I want to do something or I think about something that I shouldn't be doing, I think of my daughters. I realize they're depending on me, and I don't want to let them down.”

Dan Stefano is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at dstefano@tribweb.com or 412-380-5697.

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