STILLWATER — Bill Young considered the task of accounting for Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk, then paused a moment for a refresher on the phenom, who's sudden emergence has added a new element of danger to the Bears' offense.
Indeed, introductions are in order with Seastrunk.
Or, if the name rings a bell — and it could — reintroduction, perhaps.
One of the nation's big three running back recruits in the class of 2010, Seastrunk originally signed with Oregon and spent a year in Eugene, before returning closer to his home of Temple, Texas, lugging much NCAA-related baggage in tow.
After a quiet restart to his career, Seastrunk's stock is soaring again in Waco, where his speed and breakaway skills out of the backfield have only enhanced Baylor's already dangerous attack.
“He's just such an elusive guy,” Young said. “He's got great acceleration and can change directions in a heartbeat. He's the best back we'll have faced. We haven't faced a great back. He's it.”
So, for that reintroduction …
After setting Temple High records of 4,217 rushing yards and 52 touchdowns, Seastrunk stood as one of the nation's elite prospects. Tom Lemming of MaxPreps.com rated him as the nation's No. 2 recruit overall, and The Sporting News ranked Seastrunk at No. 4. Also a track star, Seastrunk clocked a 10.33 in the 100 meters and leaped 21-8 in the long jump during his prep career.
Coveted by schools coast to coast and in his own backyard, including Baylor and Texas, Seastrunk's recruitment eventually drew scrutiny by the NCAA, due to his linking with Houston area scouting service operator Will Lyles.
An NCAA investigation is ongoing into a $25,000 payment made by Oregon to Lyles, who told Yahoo! Sports in 2011 that “I look back at it now and they paid for what they saw as my access and influence with recruits.”
Lyles, who has been portrayed as a mentor to Seastrunk, is also at the heart of trouble at Tennessee, where the Vols recently had two years of probation added to already existing sanctions, due to former assistant coach Willie Mack Garza's reimbursement to Lyles for plane tickets and hotel expenses associated with an unofficial visit made by Seastrunk and his mother in the summer of 2009.
Now, finally, Seastrunk is showing up as a player, and not just the subject of NCAA investigations.
Even Young had lost track of Seastrunk, admittedly forgetting all the player had been through.
“I asked somebody, ‘Who is this guy?'” Young said.
For the Cowboys, he's someone extra to fear.
After sitting out last season as a transfer, Seastrunk's Baylor debut was modest: five carries through the first three games.
His last four games: an average of 128.8 yards per game, with four touchdowns. He had 185 yards in Baylor's upset of then-No. 1 Kansas State, when by Young and his staff's estimation, the Wildcats missed 30 tackles, with Seastrunk at the core of much of that. He scored three TDs at Oklahoma.
And in what amounts to five games of legitimate work, Seastrunk is averaging 7.0 yards per carry, with 696 rushing yards on 99 attempts, combining with Glasco Martin for a potent one-two punch out of the backfield.
“He's in the groove right now,” said Cowboys linebacker Alex Elkins.
And so is Baylor, having won three of its last four, which coincides with Seastrunk's greater role in the offense. The Bears had been a handful before, with quarterback Nick Florence and wideout Terrance Williams leading a passing attack that ranks third nationally.
“They'll get you so stretched out with the passing game,” Young said, “then all of a sudden they'll hit him up the middle and off tackle. He makes one guy miss and he's into your secondary.
“And maybe gone for good.”