August 20, 2011
Here's Oregon running back Lache Seastrunk in January, just a few days before the Ducks' BCS Championship showdown with Auburn, talking to an Auburn-based reporter about how he really wishes he could have gone to … Auburn:
If that sounds like an unhappy guy who's not long for in his current locale, well, it turns out that's exactly what it was: Multiple sources in Oregon report today that Seastrunk was a no-show for the Ducks' morning practice, has asked for a release from his scholarship and has been granted permission to leave. Early buzz points to a transfer to Baylor, a half-hour drive from Seastrunk's hometown of Temple, Texas, with a career stat line at Oregon of zero touches for zero yards in zero appearances.
Even if you're the kind of person who likes calling out formerly hyped blue-chip types as "busts," Seastrunk doesn't deserve the label for two reasons: a) He spent his only season in Eugene sitting behind a Heisman Trophy finalist, LaMichael James, for very understandable reasons, and b) As of right now, he still has three or four years of eligibility remaining (depending on where he lands and whether he'll have to sit out the upcoming season under NCAA transfer rules) to prove himself at another school.
But his five-star status out of high school made Seastrunk one of the most hyped recruits in school history when he chose Oregon last February, and he leaves still buried behind at least three other undersized blazers — James, Kenjon Barner and the latest hyped arrival, five-star freshman De'Anthony Thomas — on the preseason depth chart, with a walk-on (Ayele Ford) and much less-touted freshman (Tra Carson) threatening to drop him to sixth-string. On the slim chance he does return this fall (his departure has not been officially confirmed by the school), it's entirely possible he'll remain nailed to the bench.
As it stands, his name is more likely to go down in infamy. It was in pursuit of Seastrunk's services that coach Chip Kelly allegedly authorized a $25,000 payment to Seastrunk's "mentor," Houston-based scout/street agent Willie Lyles, under the guise of a scouting report that Lyles later admitted was hastily-assembled tripe intended to cover for the real purpose of the money: To buy Lyles' influence in Seastrunk's recruitment. If that really was the plan, it worked: Lyles, even while denying he intentionally guided Seastrunk to Eugene or funneled any money his way, admitted he helped Seastrunk's grandmother become his legal guardian so she could sign his letter of intent to Oregon over his mother's protests.
The result: Seastrunk never appeared happy and Oregon faces serious scrutiny from the NCAA over a player who turned out to be entirely expendable. Maybe everyone should have just listened to momma in the first place.