Why Lache Seastrunk left the Big 12 behind

At an earlier stage of my life, I spent almost two years living in Temple, Texas.

It's a nice town. Back then, it had a good mall and a great location. I was never more than an hour away from either Austin or Waco if I really wanted to do something.

But it's surprising to me that Lache Seastrunk, the most notable football prospect from that city in many years, has decided to foresake all of the schools of the Big 12. Instead, he will travel 1,661 miles away from home (according to the Web site How Far Is It) and play for Oregon.

I'm sure that Seastrunk was struck by all of the cool Nike-influenced uniforms the Ducks have. And he also probably saw a better chance of being a featured running back so far away from home than if he had stayed in the Big 12.

With the Big 12's developing reputation as a conference of passers and throwers, that's the way the school's recruiting philosophies have tilted.

We've seen first-round picks like Texas Tech wide receiver Michael Crabtree and Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman and Oklahoma State tight end Brandon Pettigrew all selected from the conference last year. We should have more this season with Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant and Oklahoma tight end Jermaine Gresham all likely to be picked in the first round in April.

Contrast to the conference's running backs. Most draft projections have Oklahoma's Chris Brown pegged as the Big 12's top running back. He's not expected to be picked during the first day of the draft.

Adrian Peterson was the last first-round running back picked from a Big 12 school, and that came in 2007.

So it's not surprising that Seastrunk has decided to pack his bags and head to Oregon when all of those factors are considered. I'm sure it was noted to him that Oregon's Jonathan Stewart was a first-round pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2008.

I also checked the Web site the Sports Librarian.com, which has already posted a group of favorites to win the Heisman in 2010.

No Big 12 players are listed among the site's top 12 contenders, and only Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert is included among seven potential candidates who could emerge as dark-horse contenders.

Included among the top 12 contenders for the 2010 Heisman are Oregon State running back Jacquizz Rodgers and Oregon running back LaMichael James. It's also interesting to consider that Rodgers graduated from Lamar Consolidated High School in Richmond, Texas, and James is a product of Liberty-Eylau High School in Texarkana, Texas.

Like Seastrunk, both players would have been a natural fit at a Big 12 school. But they all decided to travel far away from home to play in offenses that they deemed more conducive to their running talents.

Sometimes, playing time in a run-friendly offense is a more important determiner for a running back recruit than all of the home-cooked meals he would receive by staying closer to home.