Temple star running back Seastrunk commits to Oregon
After more than two years of fielding recruiters' calls, Lache Seastrunk finally decided to answer the call of the duck - the Oregon Ducks, that is.
Passing on offers from powerful programs such as Louisiana State and Southern California, Temple's record-setting senior running back verbally committed Wednesday afternoon to play college football for the University of Oregon beginning this fall.
"I think this is the best fit for me and will allow me to grow as a person," Seastrunk said inside Wildcat Gym after leaving through one set of doors, then emerging from another set of doors wearing a gray Oregon T-shirt.
One of the country's most highly recruited players in the 2010 class, Seastrunk playfully blew on a yellow plastic duck call and then proclaimed to the crowd of family, friends, coaches, teammates, classmates and media, "Go Ducks!"
Seastrunk, who also considered scholarship offers from Auburn and Memphis along with LSU and USC, said he plans to make his commitment to Oregon official next Wednesday, the first day recruits can sign binding NCAA letters of intent.
Seastrunk, a speedy 5-11, 192-pound player known for his elusiveness and big-play ability, said he decided a couple of weeks ago to join second-year coach Chip Kelly's Oregon program - which features a wide-open, high-scoring spread offense.
"I was talking to my dad, who's incarcerated, and he told me he had a vision of me wearing all white," Seastrunk said, referring to one of the Ducks' numerous uniform combinations, which also include green, gold and black. "Then God came in and told me, 'This is it.'"
"He's the smartest offensive coach out there," Seastrunk added of Kelly. "I could tell he had a genuine heart."
In Kelly's first year, Oregon overcame a season-opening loss at eventual unbeaten Boise State and controversy - running back LeGarrette Blount was suspended for punching a Boise State player following the game - to win 10 of its next 11 games and capture its first Pacific-10 Conference championship in 15 years. The Ducks reached the Rose Bowl, losing 26-17 to Ohio State.
With an offense paced by versatile junior quarterback Jeremiah Masoli and redshirt freshman running back LaMichael James, Oregon averaged 36.1 points and 412 yards total offense per game.
Seastrunk, ranked by Rivals.com as the country's No. 4 running back and No. 26 overall player, is excited about how he figures to fit into the Ducks' potent attack.
"It's going to be insane," he said with a smile. "You can't just key on one guy, because both guys are good running backs who can bust it and then you have Jeremiah Masoli."
James, from Texarkana Liberty-Eylau, was the Pac-10 Offensive Freshman of the Year after rushing for 1,546 yards and 14 touchdowns. Masoli had 2,815 yards total offense and accounted for 28 TDs.
In 32 career high school games Seastrunk rushed for a school-record 4,217 yards - including a pair of 1,500-yard seasons and a Temple-best 305 yards in his career finale at Killeen Shoemaker - and scored 52 touchdowns, another Wildcats all-time mark.
He was a second-team all-state player as a senior and recently played in the Aloha Prep Bowl in Hawaii and the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio.
Temple coach Bryce Monsen was pleased to see Seastrunk find a new home for himself.
"It's a great opportunity for Lache," said Monsen, whose Wildcats went 14-6 in district play with two playoff berths in Seastrunk's three seasons. "Obviously he gets his education paid for and it's a great place to play.
"It was his decision and I know he and his family prayed about it. We're very supportive of him and proud of him."
Throughout the recruitment process it was believed that LSU, USC and Auburn were high on Seastrunk's list, and he visited all three campuses.
But Seastrunk enjoyed his visit to Oregon's Eugene campus Dec. 18, and highly successful USC coach Pete Carroll decided to leave for the NFL's Seattle Seahawks during the weekend of the U.S. Army All-American Game.
"It was a big disappointment," Seastrunk said of Carroll's departure.
Auburn and especially Southeastern Conference rival LSU are known for the big-time atmosphere of their home games, but Seastrunk noted of the Ducks' games at Autzen Stadium, "Oregon is louder than LSU. Their crowd gets louder."
Seastrunk, who plans to major in mass media, said he will report to the Oregon campus on June 18 and wants to play as a true freshman.
"They told me to come in and compete," he said. "I get my weight program on February 4 and I'm going to work like crazy, eat right and drink lots of water."
And now that his long-awaited college decision has been made, Seastrunk won't have to answer so many calls.
"It is a relief," he admitted. "Getting calls at 1, 2 a.m. . . . it was stressful."
Greg Willie, Sports Editor, Temple-Telegram