Originally posted on Bruins Blue Digest  |  Last updated 4/14/13
If you didn't know, UCLA football is currently thin as hell at running back, thanks to the departure of perhaps the greatest ball-carrier in UCLA history in Johnathan Franklin. Franklin leaves behind a running back corps filled with talent but riddled by inexperience. And while that won't get alleviated immediately, it's not as if the issue gets better automatically in 2014. For that, there might be a transfer to fill the void. Rushel Shell, a sophomore running back transferring from Pitt, is interested in taking up a scholarship spot at UCLA. Shell, a five-star recruit out of high school, was rated as the fourth-best back in prep football for the class of 2012, receiving offers from nearly ever major FBS program in the country, including schools like Alabama and Ohio State. How good is Shell, though? He struggled in his first year at Pitt, earning 744 yards from scrimmage in 2012. And while he averages a respectable 4.5 yards per carry, he only earned more than four yards per carry in a single game four times last season, and carried the ball 20 times or more in a game twice all season. Of course, this was Shell's first year and as the second-leading rusher on the team, obstacles were to be expected. But to go along with that, Shell's freshman year was marred by injury, as the 6'0'' running back was limited with a back injury that was described by one Pitt writer as "nagging." In addition, Shell was also suspended for violating team rules just hours before the Panthers began their season against Youngstown State. The scouting reports on Shell out of high school were far more promising. The running back was touted as a major cornerstone to any offense, and though the reports knocked on his elusiveness, they fawned over his speed and size. Overall, Shell's an interesting prospect. It's tough to tell exactly why Shell is leaving Pittsburgh in the first place -- in essence, Shell was a lock to start at running back, with departing senior Ray Graham out of the mix, while no one came close to matching Shell's production in 2012. Why he came to a more uncertain situation at UCLA is beyond us. Still, given UCLA's running back depth, and given that the class of 2014 is no guarantee, having Shell aboard for next year to replace departing senior Malcolm Jones would be pretty spectacular.
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