Pitt Prepares to Depart Big East without Key Players


John Madeira, Staff Writer

As the University of Pittsburgh prepares its exit from the Big East Conference and into the Atlantic Coast Conference, they will be doing so without key contributors from their football and basketball teams.

The most notable and costly departure comes with the news of freshman running back Rushel Shell’s transfer.

Shell signed with the University of Pittsburgh in 2012 following a record breaking career at Hopewell high school from the WPIAL. Shell was among the most highly recruited players in the country, turning down football scholarships from Alabama, Florida, and Auburn among others to stay home and be a Panther.

As a true freshman in 2012 Shell rushed for 641 yards on 141 attempts while scoring four touchdowns as he split time with Pitt’s number one back, Ray Graham, and was expected to be the workhorse for the Panther offense in their inaugural season in the ACC.

After Shell took a leave of absence from the team last week, head coach Paul Chryst announced that Shell will not be returning next year as he plans to transfer out.

Many suspect he will join Coach Todd Graham at Arizona State, the coach who initially recruited him to Pitt.

Coach Chryst released a statement saying in part “Rushel and I met on Tuesday morning and he informed me of his final decision to transfer, I wish him only the best moving forward.”

Along with the news of Shell’s departure, Pitt fans also suffered a blow when basketball freshman center Steven Adams decided he too was leaving the University.

Earlier this week Adams announced he would forgo his sophomore season as a Panther to enter the NBA draft. NBA draft experts rate Adams as a likely first round pick given his size as a legit seven footer and his defensive presence, despite the fact his offensive game is not as polished as it could be.

Head basketball coach Jamie Dixon, who recently signed a ten year extension with the program, said in an interview with ESPN.com “I wouldn’t say we were totally caught off guard.” Adams is the youngest of 18 children and an NBA paycheck would go a long way to support his family.

Joining Adams in leaving the program is junior guard Trey Ziegler. Ziegler will join Shell as a transfer, but it is still uncertain as to where he will end up.