Big 12: Houston Cougars

No one knows what kind of player Rushel Shell ultimately will become, but we do know what colors he'll wear for the foreseeable future.

That would be the Old Gold and Blue:
Shell visited West Virginia on Monday and chose the Mountaineers over Kentucky. He must sit out the 2013 season at West Virginia and will have three years of eligibility remaining.

"Things went really well down at WVU," Shell said. "I enjoyed every moment of it. We toured the campus and facilities, and I got a chance to hang out with other recruits and players on the team.

"They made my visit terrific and made me feel like family."

First things first: That's cold-blooded. Shell first planned on transferring to UCLA, but changed his mind and hoped to return to Pitt. Coach Paul Chryst said that wouldn't be happening.

Now, Shell elects to transfer to a longtime Pitt rival. Staying close to his two daughters was a factor, and the two programs don't meet in the Backyard Brawl anymore. Still, imagine if Missouri receiver Dorial Green-Beckham packed his bags and transferred to Kansas, or if Texas A&M running back Trey Williams reversed field and decided to become a Longhorn.

[+] EnlargeRushel Shell
Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Rushel Shell has announced he will transfer from Pitt to West Virginia. History suggests the running back could thrive in coach Dana Holgorsen's offense.
Shell rushed for more than 9,000 yards and finished his high school career as Pennsylvania's all-time rushing leader. He was the No. 3 running back and No. 26 recruit overall in the 2012 class, and made an immediate impact as Pitt's second-leading rusher with 641 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman.

As I mentioned earlier, we don't know what kind of back Shell will become. But the 6-foot, 215-pounder has the potential to become one of the game's best and to continue his career in the NFL.

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen will get his hands on him in 2014 -- and when that happens, defenses could suffer. Since Holgorsen moved to Houston to become a playcaller in 2008, he's had only two seasons with truly great backs. In those two seasons the results were outstanding.

In 2009, Houston's Charles Sims racked up 1,457 yards of offense and 10 touchdowns on 202 touches, and the Cougars led the nation in total offense. Sims is back in a Holgorsen offense this season after transferring to West Virginia, never quite reaching the heights he did during his freshman season.

"That was probably his best year statistically," Holgorsen said at last week's media days.

After leaving Houston, Holgorsen had a chance to take the reins of an Oklahoma State offense with future San Francisco 49er Kendall Hunter on the roster. Hunter rushed for 1,548 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2010 while Oklahoma State rose from 70th in total offense to third with Holgorsen calling the plays.

West Virginia has already seen its offense spike under Holgorsen, and he has the talent in place for a solid run in the next few years. Holgorsen has a reputation as a coach who loves to air it out -- and he does -- but when he has big talents in the backfield, they don't go ignored and the offense's balance makes it tougher for defenses to lock down.

Sims will get a chance to see that in action now. But in the next three years, it's a safe bet that Shell will get an opportunity to make a lot of noise in what could be a promising career.

Ex-Houston RB Sims headed to WVU

June, 21, 2013
Former University of Houston running back Charles Sims has informed West Virginia he will transfer there for his senior season, according to a school source.

Sims, who will be eligible to play immediately because he has already earned his degree, racked up 851 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Cougars last season. He also caught three touchdown passes.

For Joe Schad's full story, click here.
Zeke Riser couldn’t pass up an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream and play for Texas, even if that means paying his own way.

The former Houston starting defensive end will join the Longhorns program this summer as a walk-on with one season of eligibility.

[+] EnlargeZeke Riser
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesZeke Riser, who graduated from Houston in December, started 27 games for the Cougars.
Riser started 27 career games at Houston, including nine in 2013. He recorded 38 tackles, three sacks and eight tackles for loss as a junior for the Cougars and received his release from the school in February.

A Texas spokesperson could not confirm that Riser is joining the program because he has yet to enroll in classes, but the lineman said his plans to transfer are “a done deal.”

“I’m definitely pumped up about it,” Riser said. “If nothing else, I have a lot of experience to offer, especially with those younger guys. These guys are super talented -- otherwise, they wouldn’t be at Texas -- so me having already played three years, I can bring a lot of experience to the table.”

Riser attended his first Longhorns spring practice on Saturday and plans to move to Austin, Texas, in May. He graduated from Houston in December and is taking graduate courses at UH this spring.

The 6-foot-4, 255-pound defensive end is making the move because he wants to play his final season of college football closer to his family. Riser grew up in La Vernia, Texas, a town located 75 miles south of UT’s campus.

“That’s really the driving force,” Riser said. “I think I would’ve regretted it if I hadn’t at least taken the chance. It’s really going to work out best for me as a player and then after college family-wise.”

The Longhorns lose starting defensive end Alex Okafor, a potential first-round NFL draft pick, but bring back veteran starter Jackson Jeffcoat in 2013. Riser said he hasn’t been guaranteed any playing time, but he’s serious about competing for a starting job when he joins the team.

“I wouldn’t go to any place that I wasn’t expecting to compete for a starting spot,” Riser said. “I’ve never sat on the bench in my life and I don’t plan to at Texas. I’m definitely going to be fighting for a starting spot and at the very least in the playing rotation. I’m not coming to Texas just because it’s a big name. I’m coming to Texas to play.”

Riser’s head coach at La Vernia, Bo Robinson, lettered at UT from 1989 to 1992 and is friends with former teammate and current Longhorns defensive ends coach Oscar Giles. That connection helped get the ball rolling for Riser, who’d originally looked into transferring to UTSA.

“Coach Giles is awesome,” Riser said. “Seeing the way he coaches and what he expects out of his players, I can really relate to his coaching style. We’re on the same page. I think it’s going to work out real well. I’m excited to get to work.”

Connections with Jeffcoat -- whose father, Jim, coached Riser and UH defensive linemen through 2010 -- and Texas defensive end Logan Mills, a fellow La Vernia native, made the final decision even easier for Riser.

He said he’s been told a scholarship is still a possibility if the Longhorns have any roster attrition this summer, but if that doesn’t work out Riser is fine with paying to be a Longhorn for one year.

After talking with Giles and Mack Brown on Saturday, Riser knows he’ll have plenty of catching up to do when he gets on campus. He’s confident his decision will end up being worth the risk.

“They’re expecting me to come in and play,” he said. “They told me I need to be ready as soon as I get here because I don’t have time to slow down and pick up the scheme. That’s OK with me, I know how things work. Again, I’m not going there to sit on the bench, and they’re not expecting me to.”



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