Pitt began the task Tuesday of moving on without Rushel Shell after coach Paul Chryst released a statement confirming the team's No. 1 running back had decided to transfer from the university.
"Rushel and I met on Tuesday morning and he informed me of his final decision to transfer," Chryst said in the statement. "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."
Shell's decision came after nearly a week of uncertainty and speculation about his Pitt football future.
The former Hopewell High School star missed a March 26 practice with "an excused absence" and was granted some "time away from football" starting Thursday to mull a transfer.
Shell was set to meet with coaches Tuesday to go over a list of potential destinations. Pitt must sign off on any schools to which he wishes to transfer, although a source indicated the university likely would not place significant restrictions on where Shell can go, other than blocking a move to any other Atlantic Coast Conference schools.
Shell most likely will pursue a move to a Pacific 12 school, according to a team source.
After practice Tuesday, Chryst re-affirmed his statement, saying he wished Shell the best, but was ready to move on with the rest of the team.
"I think everyone respects what's going on with everyone," Chryst said. "I think the one thing this team is, and it's becoming more, [is] a tighter group. I get the focus of it, and I don't know how many we had today, but we had a lot of guys and they're into this thing."
Shell ran for 641 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman last fall. In his four-year career at Hopewell, he set the Pennsylvania high school rushing record with 9,078 yards.
Junior Isaac Bennett has moved to the first team in Shell's absence, and redshirt sophomore Malcolm Crockett likely will be No. 2 running back. Converted wide receiver Demitrious Davis is the only other scholarship running back.
Bennett ran for 141 yards and three touchdowns on 29 carries last year, and Crockett gained 50 yards on 12 attempts. Crockett has missed the past two practices and is "day to day," according to Chryst. Davis also is injured, leaving the Panthers with Bennett and walk-on Desmond Brown as the only healthy running backs.
The Panthers will add freshman James Conner this fall, and, because of the dearth of options at running back, he likely will be called on to contribute.
Sam Werner: email@example.com and Twitter @SWernerPG.