Given the way he is dominating college defenses now, it's hard to believe Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk wasn't even a feature back for the Bears less than a year ago.
But that was Seastrunk's reality after transferring to Baylor from Oregon amid a recruiting scandal, redshirting in 2011, then becoming a non-factor for the Bears in the first half of last season.
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Eventually, he hit his stride, leading the nation in rushing over the final four games of 2012. This season, he has picked up where he left off in Baylor's balanced spread offense.
We're finally seeing what all the fuss was about when one the country's top-five players came out of Temple (Texas) High School, choosing Oregon over several other top schools, including USC.
He's an explosive runner with good hands, and he willingly does anything his coaches ask of him.
He is even more impressive than his talent indicates, having regained his confidence after the shaky start to his college career. Now he's a monster with certitude. Those are the players that really cause problems for defenses, the ones that think they can't be tackled. That's Lache, who hasn't been stopped since breaking out midway through last season.
Seastrunk racked up 150 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 17 carries in Baylor's 70-13 shellacking of Buffalo on Saturday, and he didn't even play after the 3:52 mark in the second quarter. After two games he has rushed for 261 yards and a nation-leading five touchdowns.
It was his sixth-consecutive game with 100 yards rushing. He has already established himself as a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate and there is no reason to think he's going to be slowed down any time soon with Louisiana-Monroe, West Virginia, Kansas State, Iowa State and Kansas up next on Baylor's schedule.
The competition for him isn't that great right now, but he ran very well against Big 12 competition toward the end of last season. I can't wait to see him run against some of the conference's better defenses later this season. I think he will do just fine. The sample we've seen so far tells us he's a big-time back.
Seastrunk does not have great size at 5-foot-10, 210 pounds, but he deserves to be in the conversation when we talk about about running backs with bright NFL futures.
Years ago, size was a natural concern for NFL teams when it came to running backs even though we've had smaller backs capable of playing all three downs. Walter Payton wasn't a giant, nor were Barry Sanders or Emmitt Smith. The game has changed with the college influence permeating throughout the NFL.
Let's face it: What Chip Kelly's Eagles did Monday night, dropping 33 points on the Redskins, will do nothing to quell it. We should get a 10-game sample in before we go all out on the Eagles, but you can see there's a place for a fast-paced spread offense in the NFL. If NFL teams are going to run offenses like that, the smaller guy isn't going to hear the old questions about being an every-down back like he did previously.
Things have changed for undersized backs, and that's a good thing for guys like Seastrunk.