July 12, 2011

Shell's game fits Crimson Tide's style

Since Nick Saban took over, the University of Alabama has centered its offense around a power rushing attack that has featured the likes of Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, a contender to win the award this year.

After bringing in a smaller, quicker back in Dee Hart last year, Alabama would like find another power back in the 2012 class, and Aliquippa, Pa., running back Rushel Shell may be the best available.

"He's the kind of kid that has that durability, that power," Shell's head coach Dave Vestal said. "He's just not a finesse kid. He's a power running back between the tackles, but he has that extra gear that gets him on the edge and takes him to the home run.

"The thing about Rushel is that he's got that extra gear and that instinct. He has that special gift of one move and accelerate or that move and run you over, that combination of the two. He's a heck of a receiver, too. He can catch the ball and just outrun people."

Shell, a Rivals.com four-star who is ranked No. 33 in the nation, has kept pretty quiet throughout the entire recruiting process. He has yet to name any favorites, but a Skype call with UA head coach Nick Saban back in May helped the Crimson Tide's chances.

"Coach Saban presented the program, talked about the program as a whole, and what it's like to be a player in the program," Vestal said. "There's much more than just going out there and playing football or being taught football. He really emphasized the full person, teaching character and teaching leadership, things like that."

During the call, Shell sat with his mother while his head coach stood off to the side to make it more about his star running back. Even though it was over the computer, the conversation still had a very intimate feel to it.

"I thought it was a very effective tool, and I think more coaches could use that tool," Vestal said. "It seems like he was the only coach that did it, and I thought it was almost like Coach Saban was sitting there across the table from you. It made Rushel feel important, and I think for it being such a long ways away, it made Alabama feel a little closer to home."

This summer, Shell doesn't plan on attending any camps, but he is working out with his high school team. The 6-foot, 210-pound star rusher still plans to take all of his official visits before making a decision.

"As far as the official visits all that, I think he's going to take them through the fall or better yet after the season, which is when a lot of these coaches want them to take their visits, so they can spend more time with these recruits," Vestal said.

For now, Shell's not as concerned about all of the attention from recruiting, but instead focused on producing another great season for Hopewell High School this fall.

As a junior, he rushed for 2,510 yards and 32 touchdowns, earning Mr. Football honors in the state of Pennsylvania.

Reach Greg Ostendorf at greg@tidesports.com.

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