Winning Holiday Bowl Most Valuable Player is a fitting climax to the crescendo that was Baylor sophomore running back Lache Seastrunk’s final month of 2012.
Early into his collegiate career, the Temple, Texas native was mentioned only with the tagline, “former Oregon recruit.” Seastrunk was tied to Willie Lyles, the Texas-based recruiting agent whose connection to the Oregon program has prompted an NCAA investigation.
Seastrunk left Oregon for Baylor just two weeks before the 2011 season, then was denied a hardship waiver that would have allowed him to forego the NCAA mandated one year of ineligibility after transfer.
Either because of turf rust, or because Art Briles and Philip Montgomery were trying to find the place in Baylor’s offense best suited to his abilities, Seastrunk was a non-factor through the 2012 season’s first two months.
He rushed for more than 39 yards just once in September or October, going for 56 in a loss to Texas on Oct. 20. But in that outing, the quick burst ability that would propel Seastrunk on a meteoric rise was on display. He broke off eight yards per carry against the Longhorn defense.
The voids left by 2011 Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III and running back Terrance Ganaway from Baylor’s 10-win teams grew more noticeable with every mounting loss. BU entered November 3-4 and in serious jeopardy of missing out on a bowl game. But then, Seastrunk was turned loose. There’s no coincidence his integration into the offense coincided with the Bears’ 5-1 run to close out the campaign at 8-5.
His 138-yard rushing performance in Baylor’s 49-26 rout of UCLA was the fifth game in Baylor’s last six that Seastrunk broke the century mark. The one game he didn’t — he accrued 91 yards against Oklahoma — Seastrunk scored three touchdowns.
The UCLA game put Seastrunk over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. Through Baylor’s first seven games, he registered 181 yards. In two separate games, he carried just one time. The campaign’s latter half was truly like an entirely different season for both Seastrunk and Baylor. Heading into 2013, the Bears have a clear cut building block for the program’s next season.
Seastrunk will go through the offseason and preseason hype ringer as a result of his torrid finish. With BU already boasting one Heisman winner this decade, don’t be surprised to hear Seastrunk’s name mentioned regularly in the conversation. If his ascent continues, though, there’s no limit to the heights he can reach.