Arguably no Oregon football player was as visible this offseason as Lache Seastrunk, even as the redshirt freshman didn't say a word to the press and stayed out of any kind of academic or arrest trouble. (Which is more than can be said for some of his teammates.) Unfortunately for Seastrunk and the Ducks, though, that's the price paid for the former five-star recruit's ties to notorious "scout" Will Lyles, whose $25,000 payment from the Ducks has put Seastrunk at the center of a scandal that threatens to rock the program.
There's no doubt Seastrunk would love to be known for more than his relationship with Lyles and the $25,000 albatross around the Ducks' neck. But according to this breakdown of the Oregon tailback situation by the Oregonian, the arrival of the 2011 season might actually make Seastrunk less visible.
That breakdown can be summarized like so: LaMichael James is the unquestioned starter; Kenjon Barner is the backup; 5'9" true freshman dynamo De'Anthony Thomas is the home-run hitter off the bench; and 227-pound fellow true frosh Tra Carson is the big-bodied change-of-pace sub.
And where does Seastunk fit in? For the first 31 paragraphs of the Oregonian story, he simply doesn't; his name doesn't appear at all until the following note, seemingly tacked on to the article as an afterthought:
It's unclear where Lache Seastrunk, the redshirt freshman from Temple, Texas, fits into the running back hierarchy.That's about as damning a lack-of-endorsement as it's possible for a newspaper to make. Remember that carries aren't the exclusive province of the running backs in Chip Kelly's offense, either; quarterback Darron Thomas will collect his fair share on the Ducks' numerous option plays, and slot receivers like Josh Huff will take the occasional handoff, too. If the Oregonian's description is correct and Seastrunk has indeed slipped all the way to fifth on the Duck depth chart, he's not going to see the ball in any situation other than the most lopsided of blowouts.
Which is why a second Oregonian writer on the Duck beat (Lindsay Schnell) predicted today that Seastrunk would be seeking a transfer. It would be a stunning development for a player recognized by nearly every recruiting guru in the nation as one of his class's top prospects at any position--and easily the best player in Oregon's 2010 class.
Because of that mouth-watering potential, it's far too early to assume Seastrunk's on his way out of Eugene, or even on his way out of the rotation. Once the rubber meets the road of the new season, all bets are off. One carry at the right time could put an explosive performer like Seastrunk right back in the thick of things.
But after last year's surprising redshirt, the distractions of this offseason, and what now seems like an uphill struggle just to earn the occasional crumb of playing time, the red flags are out and waving for Seastrunk. It would have been unthinkable two seasons ago for a prospect of his caliber to be end-of-the-bench transfer-rumor fodder, but that nonetheless appears to be the way his Oregon career is trending.