By Shehan Jeyarajah
If there’s one thing that junior Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk does not lack, it’s confidence.
“I’m going to win the Heisman. I’m going to win it in 2013,” he said last December.
When recently asked whether he regretted making the Heisman comments, he was clear.
“I said I would win the Heisman because that’s what I believe,” Seastrunk said. “I have conviction. Nobody is going to take that away from me, that I believe I can do it.”
Seastrunk’s journey to this point has been anything but conventional.
Originally a five-star recruit out of Temple High School, Seastrunk committed to the University of Oregon after a stellar high school career where he had 4,127 yards and 52 touchdowns.
However, after a redshirt year and a recruiting controversy at Oregon surrounding the running back, Seastrunk was granted unconditional release from the Ducks.
Ten days later, he became a Baylor Bear.
After sitting out a required year due to NCAA policy, Seastrunk was on the active roster for the 2012 Bears. After a slow start, Seastrunk exploded after being put in the starting lineup, rushing for 831 yards and six touchdowns in only six games, including a mammoth 185-yard performance against then No. 1 Kansas State in Waco.
And then came the prediction heard around the world.
Before playing the Bears in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl in 2012, UCLA tight end Joseph Fauria made clear his grievances about Seastrunk’s comments.
“I’m positive our defense will put that to rest,” Fauria said. “Anyone that says they’re going to win the Heisman publicly – no. You can’t do that. Doesn’t happen. Guys that are humble win the Heisman.”
Seastrunk was named Offensive MVP of the bowl after rushing for 138 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries in a 49-26 Baylor blowout.
That sets the scene for Seastrunk’s junior campaign. After being asked about his expectations for himself and for the team this season, he had this to say.
“It’s short and sweet: Big 12 Championship, National Championship, Heisman trophy.”
If nothing else, Seastrunk’s lofty goals have brought a plethora of attention to his quest.
Seastrunk won the Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year award, was named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team, and has been named to watch lists for the Maxwell Award among others.
He also was named to ESPN’s Preseason All-American team.
After learning he was also added to the watch list for the inaugural Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award watch list, Seastrunk was appreciative, but focused on the goals the team has set rather than individual accolades.
“It really doesn’t matter about preseason awards,” Seastrunk said. “This is about my team. I just want this season to finish out undefeated and get another bowl game.”
“He’s got their attention, and he’s earned it by how he performed last fall,” head football coach Art Briles said. “It’s good for him, good for Baylor, and I’m glad he’s being mentioned.”
Seastrunk and the Bears begin the 2013 season against Wofford on Aug. 31 in the final season at Floyd Casey Stadium.