As college football prepares for Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel's attempt to win back-to-back Heisman trophies, there's a player at another Texas school who may just have a good shot at dethroning him.
Baylor running back Lache Seastrunk.
Seastrunk already threw his name in the Heisman hat last December when he told Sporting News, "I'm going to win the Heisman." Of course, Seastrunk also threw out a caveat.
"I'm going to win it in 2013. If I don't, I'm going to get very close. I'm shooting for that goal. I will gladly say it."
Seastrunk has a lot of confidence in himself, and that may turn off some voters. "I feel like there's no back who can do what I do," he told Sporting News. "I know I'm the fastest back in the country. I know I'm the best back in the country. Nobody's going to work harder."
Seastrunk will be in some good company this season as he tries to win the Heisman—South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is also interested in striking the pose.
"That's my next thing to get to, New York," Clowney said. “So next season I'm going to come here and work harder than I did this season."
Seastrunk, historically speaking, has a much better shot at the Heisman than Clowney because defensive players don't have many touches on the ball, which tends to diminish their opportunities for grabbing the spotlight. But Seastrunk will still have to improve on his own numbers if he wants to be invited to New York this December.
In his first seven games of the 2012 season, Seastrunk never had more than seven carries per game—his most productive game was against Texas, where he rushed seven times for 56 yards. His second half of the season was a different story: In five of his last six games, Seastrunk had at least 16 carries and 100 yards per game.
Against Kansas State, Seastrunk rushed 19 times for 185 yards and one touchdown. Those are the kind of numbers Seastrunk is going to have to produce more consistently if he wants to challenge Manziel for the Heisman.
One intangible that helps Seastrunk is that the last two Heisman winners—Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel—both played on teams that weren't playing for the BCS Championship in the same season they won the Heisman. In the last 10 years, only one other player* has won the Heisman but not played in the BCS Championship game in the same season: Florida's Tim Tebow in 2007.
Baylor has already produced one Heisman-winning quarterback in Robert Griffin III, so why not produce another at running back? Seastrunk has tremendous power and speed, and because of that he was offered by most of college football's elite schools: Oregon, Florida, LSU, Oklahoma and Texas all made scholarship offers to Seastrunk.
Seastrunk signed with Oregon in 2010 and redshirted his first year before getting a release in the fall of 2011—his reason, according to Duck head coach Chip Kelly, was that he was homesick. The Temple, TX native would end up at Baylor.
Seastrunk became a central figure in a recruiting scandal at Oregon which is still under NCAA investigation. Oregon will likely have to answer questions about its use of Willie Lyles' recruiting services from the Committee on Infractions in late spring; if Seastrunk's recruitment process comes up clean, Heisman voters won't have to consider character issues when mulling over their ballots.
The Heisman Trophy presentation is a long 11 months away, but during that span we may see some Heisman history in the making.
Johnny Manziel could be the first player to win back-to-back Heismans since Ohio State's Archie Griffin did it in 1974-75.
A true defensive player could be the first to win the Heisman since Michigan cornerback Charles Woodson won it in 1997.
Or Baylor could produce its school's second-ever Heisman winner in Lache Seastrunk, all within a span of three years.
*including Reggie Bush, 2005