The rise in Baylor's national perception continues.
Bears running back Lache Seastrunk and guard Cyril Richardson are two of the four Big 12 stars to land a spot on the roster as the ESPN.com preseason All-American team was released Friday. Oklahoma center Gabe Ikard and TCU cornerback Jason Verrett joined the Bears’ duo as Big 12 representatives on the team.
Seastrunk, who has been vocal about his Heisman hopes, joins Georgia’s Todd Gurley at running back. He terrorized Big 12 defenses in 2012, averaging 7.7 yards per carry while rushing for 1,012 yards and seven touchdowns during his first season at Baylor after transferring from Oregon. He rushed for at least 136 rushing yards in each of Baylor's final four games.
Richardson is a monster in the middle for the Bears, helping to pave the way for Seastrunk’s "SportsCenter" moments. BU finished second in the nation at 572.2 yards per game thanks in large part to Richardson’s presence as a anchor of their offensive line.
Ikard has been a quietly productive player in the middle for Oklahoma for three seasons. The senior, who can play guard or center, brings intelligence, leadership and fundamentally sound play to the Sooners’ interior. He’s one reason OU allowed just 15 sacks on 571 pass attempts in 2012.
Verrett is the conference’s premier lockdown defender. Teams continued to test him in 2012 and he responded to the challenge with six interceptions, 22 passes defensed and 16 pass breakups. And he’s not afraid to come up in run support, as he made 63 tackles, including five for loss.
The Big 12 enters the season lacking star power at the skill positions. Seastrunk is the clear headliner of the conference on offense and is the league's preseason offensive player of the year. But as recent seasons have shown, the conference has a history of unknowns such as Justin Blackmon emerging as stars.
Don't expect this season to be any different.