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In a "Varsity Blog" post from last night, I mentioned how Rushel Shell is close to 5,000 yards rushing and how he is in 13th place on the WPIAL's all-time list. Someone posted a comment, wanting to know what happened to the careers of the 12 runners in front of Shell, and did any of them ever play professionally?
The answer to the second question is none of the top 12 rushers in WPIAL history played professionally. As for their careers after high school? Well, here is what we know:
12. Derek Bochna, Mapletown - Had an excellent career as a defensive back at Penn State and is now the head coach at McGuffey High School. I saw one listing that had him on Penn State's all-decade team of 1990-1999. He is pictured to the left.
11. Marcus Furman, Connellsville - Furman (pictured) played at Pitt and bounced back and forth between running back and receiver. At Connellsville, he set a WPIAL record for most yards in one game when he rushed for 455 yards in 2000. The record still stands today.
10. Jason Murray, Belle Vernon - Played running back at Notre Dame and had some starts in his Fighting Irish career. Eventually moved to fullback at Notre Dame.
9. Keith Miller, Beth-Center - Not sure what happened to Miller after high school. Pretty sure he signed with a small college. In fact, Mike Kovac of the Washington Observer-Reporter does a "Varsity Letters" blog and put out an APB for Miller today.
8. Todd Harris, Duquesne - Harris went on to play running back for St. Francis, Pa., and had a nice career with the Flash.
7. Max Suter, Greensburg Central Catholic - Suter (pictured to the left) currently plays at Syracuse and is a senior strong safety and kick returner for the Orange. After two games this season, Suter is tied for second on the team in tackles with 10.
6. Darrell Harding, Charleroi - Played running back at the University of Cincinnati.
5. Chico Williams, Aliquippa - Went to a junior college out of high school and never heard from him much again after that.
4. Jason Barr, McGuffey - Jason (pictured below) had 5,749 yards rushing at McGuffey and went on to have a nice career as a running back at Washington & Jefferson. He is a member of the Washington-Greene County Sports Hall of Fame.
3. Rodney Wilson, West Greene - Wilson went on to play at Slippery Rock University, but eventually moved to defense and turned into a standout linebacker, making all-PSAC in 1996.
2. Matt Gavrish, Penn-Trafford - Went on to play small-college football at Washington & Jefferson.
1. Mike Vernillo, Fort Cherry - Signed with West Virginia University out of high school. Never quite made it with the Mountaineers and transferred to Slippery Rock, where he saw playing time as a running back.