Following up on the speculation that first emerged a week ago, and the reports that surfaced Monday night, Pittsburgh has confirmed that one of its top returning offensive weapons has left the building.
In a statement released by the school, head coach Paul Chryst acknowledged that Rushel Shell has decided to transfer from the Panthers. While the destination was not revealed by Chryst nor anyone connected to the program, it’s believed the soon-to-be true sophomore running back will ultimately land at a Pac-12 school in general and Arizona State specifically.
“Rushel and I met on Tuesday morning and he informed me of his final decision to transfer,” Chryst’s statement began. “I wish him only the best moving forward. Out of respect for Rushel, his family and his privacy, this will be my final comment on the matter.”
Chryst had announced late last week that Shell would be leaving the team in order to work through some things.
Barring the unexpected, Shell will be forced to sit out the 2013 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules if he moves on to an FBS program. He would then have three seasons of eligibility remaining.
With the departure of leading-rusher Ray Graham (1,042 yards), losing Shell and his 641 yards puts a sizable dent in the Panthers’ returning production in the run game. In fact, the returning running backs totaled just 248 yards combined in 2012, with three rushing touchdowns. Graham (11) and Shell (four) accounted for 15 rushing touchdowns.
Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.
Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.
And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.
“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”
Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.
You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season? Watch lists are being whittled.
The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior. The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.
The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).
The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten. The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).
Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah