WACO (AP) – Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk boldly proclaimed that he would win the 2013 Heisman Trophy, or at least get very close.
Seastrunk has never shied away from that statement he made 10 months ago. He is now backing it up with his performance on the field while playing only about half of each game for the 15th-ranked Bears (4-0, 1-0 Big 12).
With Baylor jumping out to big leads, only two of Seastrunk’s 53 carries have come after halftime. But he’s still the nation’s second-leading rusher with 147 yards a game and eight touchdowns.
“If you’re going to say something like that, you better back it up. And I feel like the kid has done nothing but do that,” said quarterback Bryce Petty, the first-year starter with plenty of his own big numbers.
“He gets in between the lines and he makes things happen. At any given time, he could take it for 75 yards. How does that not just want to make you hand the ball off to him.”
Seastrunk’s school-record streak of eight 100-yard games coincides with Baylor’s eight-game winning streak that is the longest in the Big 12.
Ask Seastrunk about his season so far, when he averages an astonishing 11.1 yards per carry, and the former transfer from Oregon doesn’t sound like a cocky kid declaring himself a favorite for the Heisman Trophy that had never gone to a Baylor player until Robert Griffin III won it two years ago.
“The only reason I’m doing so well on the field is because I’ve got the best blockers in the world. I’ve got my front five and my receivers are doing their job,” Seastrunk said this week. “I know I’ve got to give myself some type of credit, but honestly, it’s really because of my front five and my receivers.”
The Bears, by far the nation’s most productive offense with 779.5 total yards and 70.5 points a game, play their first road game Saturday at Kansas State (2-3, 2-2).
Baylor’s winning streak and Seastrunk’s run of 100-yard games started last November in a 52-24 victory over the Wildcats, who entered that game the No. 1 team in the BCS standings. Seastrunk ran for 185 yards, with an 80-yard TD.
Boston College’s Andrew Williams is the FBS leader with 153.6 yards per game this year. Williams is averaging nearly 27 carries a game, twice as many as Seastrunk.
This isn’t the first time Seastrunk has said he would win the Heisman. The other came when he arrived at Oregon as a freshman after being one of the nation’s top high school running backs at Temple, Texas, less than 40 miles from the Baylor campus in Waco.
But he never played a game for the Ducks and his time there was tainted by an NCAA investigation that eventually determined former Oregon coach Chip Kelly failed to monitor the program because of improper involvement with Houston-based recruiting analyst Willie Lyles, with whom Seastrunk was close. The running back has repeatedly said Lyles didn’t lead him to Oregon.
When Seastrunk decided to leave Oregon in August 2011, he had slipped down the depth chart. He also wanted to be closer to home, his church and his family, including a grandmother who was then dealing with liver cancer and has since gotten better.
“I never regret anything that happened at Oregon,” Seastrunk said candidly at Big 12 media days before this season.
“Honestly, I wasn’t good enough. … You can call that how you want to all it. I just wasn’t good enough. I still don’t feel like I’m good enough. That’s why I work hard every day to make sure than I can be great.”
After not playing at Oregon and having to sit out a season at Baylor, he had only 181 yards rushing the first seven games in 2012.
But he broke through with 831 yards the last six and was the Holiday Bowl offensive MVP with 138 yards and a touchdown against UCLA after his Heisman statement.
Seastrunk hasn’t slowed down since.
“I love the way everything is right now,” he said, calling it a blessing to be back home. “But everything can get better.”
While setting a goal to win college football’s highest individual award, Seastrunk said his real focus is trying to help Baylor win its first Big 12 championship and have a chance to play for a national title.
Bears receiver Tevin Reese said “anything Lache does is for the team.” Even the Heisman talk.
“He basically just came out and said what everybody was thinking,” Reese said. “He basically said that to set a standard for himself. … We expected him to come to work like he was going to win the Heisman. He was going to try to win the Heisman every day. That’s what we see from Lache.”
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