Seastrunk has the need for speed

Bishop Dunne (Dallas) football coach Kenneth Davis knows a thing or two about gridiron talent. An All-American running back at TCU in 1984, Davis went to four Super Bowls with the Buffalo Bills and played with the likes of Hall of Fame tailback Thurman Thomas.

Yet, while watching Temple (Texas) senior running back Lache Seastrunk carry the ball, even Davis is awestruck by speed he hasn't witnessed often in all his years around the game.

"I think he's one of the fastest athletes I've ever seen in pads," says Davis, who was a member of Temple's 1979 state championship team. "Matter of fact, I think he's faster than Reggie Bush. He's a tremendous athlete."

Davis isn't alone. Temple head coach Bryce Monsen played linebacker at BYU and says he hasn't seen anyone faster than Seastrunk (whose first name is pronounced "lake"). Same with former Temple head coach Bob McQueen, who coached Davis and led the Wildcats to a pair of state titles in 28 years at the helm.

Seastrunk's speed is so overwhelming even he couldn't corral it initially, leading to one of the more comical plays of his high school career. On his first varsity carry against South Garland during his sophomore year, Seastrunk saw an enormous hole at the line and burst through. But he was so excited and moved so quickly that he ended up tripping and falling to the turf after eight yards on what looked like a sure touchdown.

Thankfully for Seastrunk, the play didn't count as Temple was called for a penalty. And he was quick to make amends. On the very next snap, he raced 75 yards for his first high school touchdown on his first official carry.

"That's when we were like, 'Wow, we've got something special here,'" says Monsen, who's in his fifth year as head coach.

Seastrunk finished the game with 112 yards and two touchdowns on seven carries in a 21-17 Temple victory.

"He's fun to watch," Monsen says. "Sometimes I get caught up in just watching him make a play."

And he's made plenty of them. Now in his third year as a starter for the Wildcats, Seastrunk is rated the nation's No. 20 recruit in the ESPNU 150, No. 5 among running backs and No. 3 among Texans. The 5-foot-10, 190-pounder entered his senior year with 3,043 rushing yards and 37 total touchdowns, just 27 yards and five touchdowns shy of breaking school records set by Delarrius Wilson in the early '90s.

Last year, Seastrunk was a Class 5A All-State honorable mention selection after rushing for 1,511 yards and 14 touchdowns on 173 carries (8.7 yards per carry). He added three receiving touchdowns and returned a kickoff for a score before Temple lost in the first round of the Class 5A, Division I playoffs.

Once the season ended, Seastrunk's recruitment began to heat up. He now holds offers from BCS powers like USC, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma, Texas and Auburn. And he's been deluged daily with questions about where he's going or if he has a top 10. As of press time, Seastrunk says his college options are wide open.

As if selecting a college destination isn't enough to worry about, Seastrunk also plays his home games in front of more than 10,000 fans who all expect a highlight-reel play from him each time he steps on the field.

But Seastrunk hasn't let the weight of enormous expectations get to him, nor has he gotten caught up in all the recruiting hype.

"It's never any pressure," he says. "I'm always going to be Lache, no matter what. If you start letting the recruiting get to your head and start listening that you're this and that, that's when your performance is going to drop."

Being Lache means more than just scoring long-distance touchdowns on a weekly basis. It's acting like just another one of the guys off the field. It's walking into school every day with a smile even with all the recruiting stress. It's taking the time to pray before every game. And it's representing your community in the best way possible.

For instance, Seastrunk volunteered last year to help out with Temple's special-needs students, and Monsen received numerous e-mails from appreciative teachers.

"Lache is a people's person," says Seastrunk's best friend, Derrick Davis, a senior fullback/linebacker at Temple and Kenneth Davis' nephew. "He can get along with any group of people. He loves making somebody happy. You never see Lache without a smile on his face."

"I'm trying to make everyone's day go better," Seastrunk adds.

On the field, Seastrunk is poised to deliver a sparkling senior season. His lofty recruit ranking and numerous scholarship offers only pushed him to hit the weights harder and do extra speed drills heading into the year. Last year's 40-14 playoff loss to DeSoto in which Seastrunk ran for 59 yards on 16 carries also served as motivation.

"I don't care how you slice it, we're going to get it done this year," Seastrunk says. "I promise there's nobody in this world who works harder than me. I told my teammates I'd come back stronger, faster and smarter. Nobody is going to get an edge on me. That's how I feel."

As for dealing with comparisons to his favorite player, Seastrunk is flattered but knows he isn't at that level. Yet.

"You can't put me and Reggie Bush in the same category," Seastrunk says. "He does some amazing stuff. I've got a long ways to go. I'm nowhere near him. That's why I keep working hard every day. I know in my heart that if I keep working hard, I'll be better than him someday."

Some will tell you he's already faster.

Jon Mahoney covers high school sports for ESPN RISE Magazine.