Today, we catch up with 2009 American Family Insurance ALL-USA football player Lache Seastrunk of Temple, Texas, who is a junior running back at Baylor. For more than 30 years, USA TODAY has recognized the nation's top high school athletes. We are digging into the archives and checking in with ALL-USA honorees from the past three decades.
Baylor junior running back Lache Seastrunk makes no apologies for striking the occasional Heisman Trophy pose, as he did in December following the Bears' defeat of UCLA in the Holiday Bowl and again in August at Baylor's Welcome Week Spirit Rally. He's been preparing for this season for a long time.
"I write all my goals down," Seastrunk says. "I speak all my goals. It's like in the Bible, 'A man without dreams or a vision should perish.' I've had the goal of winning the Heisman Trophy since I played Xbox as a kid."
Seastrunk, who is 5-10 and weighs 210 pounds, has entered the mix for the Heisman Trophy by rushing for 100 or more yards in his past six games, including 260 yards and five touchdowns in two games this season.
His emergence is all the more amazing considering he was mired on Baylor's bench at this time last year, still waiting for his first college football start three years since he ran for 4,217 and 52 touchdowns in four high school seasons at Temple, Texas.
In 2009, Seastrunk and Marcus Lattimore were the two high school first-team All-USA running backs, but Seastrunk's career hit a speed bump before it could begin at Oregon.
He was redshirted his freshman year with the Ducks amid questions about Seastrunk's connection to Willie Lyles, who ran a Houston-based recruiting service that Oregon paid $25,000 to. In 2011, citing the failing health of his grandmother, Annie Harris, Seastrunk asked for a hardship transfer to Baylor, which is roughly 30 miles north of Temple. The waiver was turned down, meaning he had to sit out the 2011 season at Baylor.
Last season, he had only 15 carries in his first five games with the Bears. However, in the sixth game of the season against Kansas, he ran for 103 yards and had 91 receiving yards and a 68-yard touchdown catch. From there, he stayed in the lineup, finishing the season with 1,012 yards and seven touchdowns on 131 carries.
"The time off gave me time to grow in myself and being able to understand the game," Seastrunk says. "I fully understand now that duration is the key. That's why I am making sure somebody doesn't outwork me on the game."
Seastrunk says he enjoyed his transfer year because it gave him time to reconnect with his family. His mother, Evelyn Seastrunk, says her son is the player he is because of what he's had to go through.
"I don't think he's making up for lost time," she says. "It's that when you work so hard to accomplish greatness and work so hard for that, and
when the opportunity is presented and is misrepresented, that stuff makes you stronger. He's constantly having to prove himself. Lache (pronounced Lake) would have had a greater year last year, but look how long he sat on the bench. When you're striving for greatness, there are going to be things that get in the way. All you can do is keep working. He now has the opportunity to showcase the skills that he has and he eats, breathes and lives football."
VIDEO: Seastrunk's highlight runs
There's little question regarding Seastrunk's physical skills. According to Baylor, he can run a 4.34 40-yard dash and his vertical leap has been measured at 44.2 inches. His mother, who played basketball at North Texas, says his athleticism comes from her side of the family. But it takes more than physical prowess to get out of Temple. Seastrunk's mother, who runs a credit repair business in Killeen, spent some time in jail in his youth and his biological father has been incarcerated for much of his life. Two of his former Temple teammates, Derick Davis and Anthony Coulter, were arrested in 2010 in connection with armed robberies.
"There have been so many good players who didn't make it because they chose other things," Seastrunk says.
Growing up, basketball was Seastrunk's favorite sport and he wore No. 23 because of Michael Jordan. His speed proved more useful in football, however, so he's found new role models, such as Reggie Bush and Adrian Peterson.
"I am definitely going to work my butt off to be the best," Seastrunk says. "I don't want to be the typical pro athlete who gets paid and doesn't take the game seriously. It's about making a kid want to be where you are and not losing the game's ideals."