2012 Big 33 Game Preview: Rushel Shell Readies For Pennsylvania-Ohio Clash

Paul Chryst has several Pitt recruits in the Big 33 Game this weekend (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Rushel Shell isn't the only Pitt recruit playing in this weekend's Big 33 Game, but he's the biggest one. To be honest, I'm not real thrilled of a game being played this late in the year and fairly close to training camp, where these guys will be headed for their respective colleges. That said, I'm sure these guys could give two craps about what non-players think - they just want to play football and, in the end, you can get injured doing almost anything.

Back to Shell, though. First, The Sports Network has a look at him:

Rushel Shell, RB, Pittsburgh - As one of the top running back recruits in the nation, Shell received offers from top programs like Alabama, Florida and Oregon, but opted to stay closer to home by signing with Pittsburgh. He finished his high school career as the leading rusher in Pennsylvania state history and set a new national record by rushing for 100 yards or more in 39 consecutive games. The Panthers already have one of the nation's best backs in Ray Graham, but it remains to be seen how he will bounce back after suffering a serious knee injury last season. Regardless of Graham's status, Shell should see enough of the field to make an immediate impact.

Barring an injury or something really unforeseen, Shell will definitely see time on the field ... probably even from Day 1. Not too much in rehashing what the preview mentioned, so onto the game.

One player on his team is taking notice of his greatness in practice. Pennsylvania linebacker Bryton Barr knows what kind of player he is from lining up against him this week in practices:

Though Shell stands at a relatively short 5-foot-11, he’s shown already why he was so highly-touted coming out of high school and why folks in Pittsburgh are happy he decided to stay home and play for the Panthers next season.

"He’s definitely the real deal," Barr said. "He’s big. He’ll run you over and the next time you turnaround, he’ll juke you. He’s just an all-around great running back."

His coach in the game also sees some things in him:
Naturally, you look at the skill positions. The running back position, Rushel Shell, he really jumps out at you. He's a powerful kid. He reminds you a little bit of Kevin Jones. He's in that powerful running style to him.
And in case you missed it this past week, Shell's had another thing besides football on his mind recently - being a dad.

For the most part, he's the player to look at from a Pitt perspective. But when he doesn't have the ball, there are some defensive guys to watch as well that are coming to the Panthers.
"It’s a little different. The approach is obviously different. I don’t think we’ve thought about last year too much," Wilk said. "But I do know we have a little competitive thing going with our defensive line. And we have some pretty good speed rushers there and a pretty big guy in the middle with [Allderdice lineman] Tyrique Jarrett. I think we’re getting pretty good preparation for the game."
As I mentioned when he first committed to Pitt, Jarrett's gone a bit under the radar. But he was drawing interest from some bigger schools later in the process, so he could be a find.

Another player to watch on defense is linebacker Mike Caprara - another potential under the radar guy recruited by Pitt. Caprara, if you don't remember, was Chryst's first recruit since taking over the Panthers. He recently talked about the game and also about something he's frequently asked about:
"Everybody pops the question, 'Mike, you're only 6-foot?' That's a motivation," Caprara said. "As soon as I hear that, it's pedal to the metal because you don't know what you're about to see."
Yeah, I'm really concerned with his height and all. I mean, just look at Scott McKillop ... what a bust #Facepalm

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter @PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt football and basketball.

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