Few players exploded onto the recruiting scene faster and brighter than 2010 running back Lache Seastrunk (click for bio, scouting report, free video and more).
“At the start of his sophomore year nobody knew who he was,” said Temple head coach Bryce Monsen. “We knew him, but nobody else did.”
That changed in Seastrunk's first varsity game.
It was the 2007 HEB Kickoff Classic in Waco. The Temple Wildcats were opening their season at the Classic with a neutral site game against South Garland. Monsen had a senior-heavy team, but decided to give his young sophomore running back a shot against a tough Colonel defense, led by safety Joseph Ibiloye, who ended up signing with Oklahoma.
On his first carry, Seastrunk took the ball, danced outside and streaked down the sideline.
“He ran down our sideline right in front of us and the safety (Ibiloye) had an angle and he just couldn't get him,” said Monsen. “We all just went, 'Oh my Gosh. You got to be kidding me.'”
And 65 yards later Seastrunk was in the end zone.
“We knew he was good, we just didn't know how good,” said Monsen. “He was a freshman the year before and we played him up on varsity with some scrimmages and he just wasn't quite ready.”
It was apparent from the start of his sophomore season, though, that he was ready for the big time. Seastrunk ended the season with 1,532 yards on just 130 carries (11.8 yards per carry) and 22 touchdowns.
According to Seastrunk, he was able to make the sudden leap because of the intense work he put in during the offseason in preparation for varsity football.
“Like Tim Tebow said (after the loss to Ole Miss in 2008), you'll never find a player who'll work harder than me. You'll never find a player that'll do what I'll do on the field. I'll give you 125, 130 percent every day,” said Seastrunk.
Of course, he's also got quite a bit of natural talent to work with. The state of Texas is full of talented running backs for the class of 2010 -- such as D.J. Jones of Denison, Traylon Shead of Cayuga, Darius Dotson of Van Vleck and Princeton Collins of Austin Westwood -- but what separates Seastrunk and makes him the No. 1 player in the state (see the Inside Texas 2010 Top 100) is his almost freakish change of direction ability.
“He's got one thing that others don't. He can start and stop on a dime like nobody I've ever seen,” said Monsen. “I'm talking 20-something years of coaching, I've never seen it in person or on film from any other kid. And I've seen some good ones, kids that are in the NFL, I've coached all star games and I've never seen a kid that changes direction faster than he can and not lose his balance.”
Seastrunk got to show off those abilities earlier this month at the 2009 U.S. Army Junior Combine. The Temple running back came away with MVP honors at the combine after running a laser-timed 4.49 on a relatively slow turf (Sportfield, a relatively thick fake grass), jumped a vertical of 43 inches and ran a 4.41 in the shuttle.
Thanks to performances like that and another 1,500-yard season his junior year, Seastrunk has become one of the hottest commodities in the nation. Seastrunk said he's stopped keeping track of the number of offers he's received, but he's gotten one from seemingly every major program.
“You name 'em and they've sat over in that chair,” said Monsen, indicating the other chair across from his desk. “I think he's handled it well for all the attention he's gotten.”
One of the schools that has not offered, however, is Texas, which typically doesn't give written offers out until the previous class has signed. With his grades certainly in order -- he sports a 3.42 GPA -- Seastrunk will almost certainly get that offer when he arrives in Austin on Feb. 8th for a Longhorn Junior Day.
But first up is LSU. Seastrunk will travel down to Baton Rouge and to a state he's got a lot of family ties to. He lives in Texas, but Seastrunk's family is originally from Louisiana. On a previous visit to LSU, Seastrunk found he had more connections than he originally thought.
“(LSU commit) Michael Ford is my cousin, and I didn't even know it, and I've got a half-brother named Trovon Reed,” said Seastrunk.
Reed is a 2010 receiver from Thibodaux, La. who has become nearly as hot a prospect as Seastrunk.
At the beginning of the recruiting process, Seastrunk was strongly favoring both Texas and LSU, but he's since expanded his view and has been looking at several other schools, including USC, Miami and Oklahoma.
“There's not a top school at all right now because every school has something good to offer,” said Seastrunk.
Seastrunk told Inside Texas that he'll most likely wait all the way until Signing Day 2010 before making his decision, so even though he's got Junior Day visits coming up, don't expect a commitment just yet to LSU, Texas or anywhere else.
Seastrunk has attracted plenty of attention in recruiting, but it turns out he's not the only Temple running back that coaches have been stopping by to see.
Midway through the 2008 season, Temple's starting fullback was injured and Monsen needed a new starter. He turned to his top linebacker, Derrick Davis, and asked him to step in on offense as well.
The results were spectacular.
“He didn't play running back until five games into the season and he still caught me in touchdowns,” said Seastrunk with a smile.
Davis finished with 12 TDs and 502 yards on the ground and ended up as a first team all-district selection on both offense and defense. Monsen said that, along with Davis' experience playing fullback in middle school, being a running back is in his blood.
“It's nothing new to him. He's a Davis,” said Monsen.
Davis is the nephew of former NFL running back Kenneth Davis, who played in four consecutive Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills (and was also a teammate of Texas commit Garrett Gilbert's father, Gale, who was a backup quarterback with the Bills). Kenneth helped lead Temple to the 1979 state championship and will be inducted into the Texas High School football hall of fame on May 2nd.
Derrick Davis hasn't picked up any offers yet, but he's currently being recruited the hardest by Oregon, UCLA, Alabama and Texas A&M. Some schools want him as a linebacker, some as a fullback, but whichever position he ends up at, Monsen says that he'll be a solid collegiate player for any program.
“I think it's totally up to Derrick and whichever way he goes he's going to be pretty good,” said Monsen.
As will Seastrunk. We're still quite a ways from finding out which school will end up with Seastrunk and there are still a lot of twists and turns left in a long recruiting process, but the Junior Day visits start this weekend and the race is on for the No. 1 player in Texas.
Inside Texas subscribers:
Get even more info on Seastrunk's recruitment. Check out the latest edition of the Inside Scoop, where we delve deeper into his plans for recruiting and for college. Why is he going to wait so long to decide? What matters most to him in a school? Plus, Seastrunk says he models his game after a player who went to one of his top schools. -- The Inside Texas Inside Scoop
What about Davis? Which head coach has dropped by Temple specifically to talk about him and what position is he being targeted for? Which would he prefer to play? Do the Longhorns have any interest? Get more inside. -- Members Only: Update on 2010 LB/FB Derrick Davis
Derrick Davis (L) and Lache Seastrunk