The recruiting letters started coming early for Aliquippa (Pa.) Hopwell running back Rushel Shell. He received his first one in the ninth grade.
The scholarship offers came quickly after that. Pittsburgh was first, but Penn State followed not long after that. Now, everyone is seemingly chasing after the ESPNU Watch List prospect. North Carolina, West Virginia, Ohio State, Alabama, Auburn, Cincinnati, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, UCLA, and many others have made offers.
"It was surprising to get that very first one from Pitt," Shell said. "Now I think I have a couple of dozen or so. It's a humbling process and I try real hard not to let it get to my head and just take it day by day."
At this point I am open and even with everyone," Shell said. "I hope to make my decision in the middle of the season or towards the end. Being comfortable is the main thing. Education is big too. I will also look at the depth charts of my position because I want to play. Scheme really doesn't matter but those things do.
”-- Watch List RB Rushel Shell
So far, that approach is working pretty well for the 5-foot-11, 218-pounder. In three years, he's rushed for 6,551 yards and 77 touchdowns, including last year's 2,510 yards and 32 scores.
"He's so durable," said Hopewell coach Dave Vestal. "He gets the ball a lot and whether it's 20 times a game or 45, Rushel is one of those backs that gets stronger the more he touches it. He gets better and better as the game goes on."
Shell is a versatile back. He can run downhill with authority on one play, but then use his speed to turn the corner on the next play.
"Rushel has a blend of a physical running style and a burst," Vestal said. "He can make that move and then give you the home run. He can run between the tackles and also get on the edge. He gets yards after contact. All of these things make him an outstanding football player."
Hopewell's up-tempo system means more plays, which means more chances to Shell to get the ball and make plays.
"It's great getting those touches," Shell said. "You can overcome some mistakes and make up some bad plays. It feels good and I feel like the farther we are in the game the better I am. I get faster and stronger. I'm the type of guy that can make a move or go right through you."
Shell has already been able to unofficially visit schools like Pitt, Penn State, North Carolina, West Virginia and Ohio State. This spring is hoping to check out Oregon, Florida and Alabama.
"At this point I am open and even with everyone," Shell said. "I hope to make my decision in the middle of the season or towards the end. Being comfortable is the main thing. Education is big too. I will also look at the depth charts of my position because I want to play. Scheme really doesn't matter but those things do."
Jamie Newberg has been covering recruiting in the Southeast and nationally for 19 years. He can be reached at email@example.com.