Saturday, April 6, 2013
Seastrunk's emergence no big surprise
By David Ubben
WACO, Texas -- Lache Seastrunk broke out as the story of the Big 12 in the final month of the 2012 season. He rushed for 831 yards in Baylor's final six games and topped 135 yards in each of the final four games, all victories for the Bears, including 185 yards against BCS No. 1 Kansas State in a blowout upset for the program's first-ever win over a No. 1 team.
Before mid-October, Seastrunk had never carried the ball more than seven times. He didn't have fewer than 15 once November began and the Bears hit a late-season surge.
So what was the deal? We'll never know what might have happened if Seastrunk had been featured more in the Bears' offense early in the season, but why wasn't he?
"You know, he just needed an adjustment, needed time to become a great teammate," Baylor coach Art Briles said. "And he’s done everything by the book since he’s been here. I have a lot of respect for the way he takes care of himself and approaches the game."
With nine league games on the schedule, Baylor was one of five Big 12 teams that finished 2012 with a 7-5 regular-season mark.
It has paid off. Seastrunk, who transferred from Oregon just before the 2011 season began, started to turn his potential into production. Lots and lots of production. The No. 6 running back in the nation's 2010 class and the No. 40 prospect overall looked like the Big 12's No. 1 running back, and not far from its No. 1 player, in the final month of the season. How he did it isn't too complicated.
"He’s good," Briles said with a chuckle. "He’s good. He’s an explosive player that has dynamic ability. That’s a pretty easy equation."
For the 2013 season, Seastrunk is looking to show off a bit more development as a runner.
"Just to make sure I’m a little bit more patient with my runs and letting things develop before I hit full steam," Seastrunk said. "They want me to break through the first line of the defense, but after that it’s just, 'Be you.' They can’t coach me on that."
Any Baylor player would describe Briles as a players' coach. The 57-year-old former high school coach's uncanny ability to relate to players has showed up on the recruiting trail, but any players' coach knows his players' personalities well.
In that case, Briles wasn't too surprised when he heard Seastrunk had told Sporting News he was "going to win the Heisman. I’m going to win it in 2013. If I don’t, I’m going to get very close."
It didn't draw much more than a shrug.
"I know Lache. It’s like water that's on your back. Slides right off," Briles said. "No big deal."
Seastrunk doesn't lack for confidence, and though the quote might have drawn a stern reprimand and perhaps a media ban from plenty of other head coaches, Briles almost sounds encouraged words that more than a few might describe as brash.
"If you walked up to a lot of student-athletes and said, 'Would you like to win the Heisman' or 'Can you win the Heisman?' you certainly wouldn’t want people saying no," Briles said, "or at least I don’t."
Seastrunk will get his chance this fall. Will he win Baylor's second Heisman in three years?