Pitt landed one of its biggest recruits in years Friday morning when Aliquippa (Pa.) Hopewell running back Rushel Shell committed to the Panthers during an announcement ceremony at his high school.
Shell picked Pitt over a long list of scholarship offers, but his final choice was Pitt and Alabama.
A four-star recruit, Shell is ranked as the No. 45 prospect in the nation, the No. 5 running back and the No. 2 recruit in the state of Pennsylvania.
He is the third four-star prospect to pick Pitt in this recruiting class. Pitt has not had a top-50 recruit since the class of 2005, when five-star receiver Jonathan Baldwin (No. 26) and four-star offensive lineman Lucas Nix (No. 39) signed with the Panthers.
Earlier this season, Shell broke the WPIAL all-time rushing record when he ran for 205 yards and three touchdowns against Mt. Lebanon. That pushed his career number to 7,718 yards, topping Fort Cherry's Mike Vernillo, who rushed for 7,646 from 1996-99.
Shell added 109 yards in the following game to bring his career total to 7,827. The all-time career rushing record in Pennsylvania was set by Steelton-Highspire's Jeremiah Young, who rushed for 9,027 yards from 2004-07. Shell needs 1,200 yards to catch Young's record; Hopewell has two regular season games left on the schedule.
Shell is the 18th recruit to commit to Pitt in the class of 2012. He joins Fox Chapel offensive lineman Adam Bisnowaty, Cleveland (Tenn.) quarterback Chad Voytik, Baltimore (Md.) Gilman linebacker Devon Porchia, Upper St. Clair linebacker Dakota Conwell, Johnstown linebacker Alkwan Williams, Sto-Rox cornerback Marzett Geter Clairton receiver Trenton Coles, Germantown cornerback William Parks, Bedford (Oh.) defensive end Myles Hilliard, Cincinnati (Oh.) St. Xavier offensive lineman Brandyn Cook, Pomfret (Md.) McDonough cornerback Marchez Coates, St. Edward (Oh.) defensive end Darryl Render, New Berlin (NY) Milford defensive back Jevonte Pitts, Penn Hills wide receiver Corey Jones, Taylor Allderdice defensive lineman Tyrique Jarrett, and Austintown (Oh.) Fitch receivers Chris and Demitrious Davis.