Clark: Amid the turmoil, Lache Seastrunk’s story left untold

Lache Seastrunk (15), and his connection to recruiter Willie Lyles, has been one of the major points of discussion as the Ducks football team has become embroiled in controversy in recent months. Seastrunk's recruitment is allegedly at the heart of the NCAA's investigation into Oregon football, but Seastrunk transfered to Baylor before playing a down of Oregon football. (Aaron Marineau/Oregon Daily Emerald)

Posted by Lucas Clark on Sunday, Jul. 10 at 3:05 pm.

He sat a handful of desks behind the front row, his white Apple headphones in, MacBook Pro open, and a Styrofoam container filled with food after morning practice.

This was the routine for Lache Seastrunk in our Family and Human Services course spring term. Three days a week, he would come in, sit in the same spot, and bring genuine emotion to a class that was based largely on family and core values.

At the most basic level, we discussed what the most important things in life are, and how we can positively influence others.

I took the course for an easy grade — don’t get me wrong, I certainly enjoyed it — and learned a lot more about the people in the class than I did about the material that was being presented.

Lache was one of those people.

No matter how indirectly, I observed and listened to a lot of the things he had to say, and was not only impressed, but also taken back by the amount of emotion he was willing to show in a room filled with more than 150 of his peers.

He spoke frequently of his life growing up in Texas, and the hardships he faced living in an area where drug abuse and violence were societal norms. I suppose most people who enroll in an FHS course share similar backgrounds, and can relate to struggle in their own right. And from what I saw first hand, Lache was never shy to put everything out in the open and make himself vulnerable.

He spoke frequently of his grandmother, “Nana,” and the way she impacted his decision-making and life choices for the better. His passion for helping others was so incredibly genuine that it almost brought him to tears on multiple occasions, and more often than not the class would follow suit.

It’s days like those that make it hard for me to swallow everything that has come about with the Oregon athletic department and Willie Lyles over the past months. When and where are we ever going to get Lache’s side of the story? At what point to we stop dragging his name through the mud on the coattails of Lyles?

From what we’ve heard from the players, Lyles has been a standup guy and ready to help at a moment’s notice. Whether Lyles had his eye on something bigger isn’t the point here. It’s that these young men, who were sought after be some of the most prestigious football programs in the entire country, looked to Lyles during one of the most important times in their young adult lives.

If you turn on the television today, you’d think Lyles took LaMichael James’ math test for him, and forced Seastrunk’s mother’s hand to the paper and made her sign his letter of intent.

While I can’t speak to James’ situation, Seatrunk was going to have to make that move at some point along the way. His mother was dealing with her own demons, and Seastrunk had to call an audible.

It’s these little details that I wish were conveyed in all of this madness. I understand student-athlete availability is a joke this time of year, but the whole story needs to be out there. When I watched John Canzano continually bring up the argument of Lyles’ relationship with Seastrunk’s mother during his guest segment on College Football Live last week — a piece I was actually looking forward to — I couldn’t help but shake my head and turn away.

It’s safe to say he, or any of the other three on the panel that day, have never spoken a word to Lache, and that’s truly a shame.

There isn’t a doubt in my mind that if Lache’s side of this story were out in the open, this whole series of events would have been reported somewhat differently. I often wonder how much longer we’ll see Lache in an Oregon uniform (a tragedy considering the kid hasn’t played a single down of college football, yet), and how much more he is willing to put up with.

The Lache I saw outside of football and outside of the media was a person of exceptionally strong character with an undeniable emotion about him that I can only imagine inspires his coaches and teammates alike.

It’s my only hope that Lache gets through this and comes out with a positive outlook toward his future.

At this point, he’s owed that much.



  • Gmcclen

    When are we going to hear Lache’s side of the story? Considering that you are a writer for a newspaper, wouldn’t it make sense for you to ask Lache rather than your readers?

    • Duck Fan 123

      You can’t blame this writter. He and all other journalist have ZERO chance of getting a quote!!! The UofO is understandably on lock down until NCAA investigations are more known. It’s simple…once you lawyer up you shut up! Yes, we will get Lache’s side, but it will be a part of the clean up and reputation rebuild after any discipline has been handed out.

      • Guest

        I am sure the players are strongly being instructed not to comment. Especially Lache and LaMichael. They will surely talk to people within the University and the NCAA and then to the media when the time is appropriate. I am a Beaver, but wish the best for these kids who have succeeded despite upbringings most of us can’t imagine. 

    • jb

      It’s called a rhetorical question…not really to be answered, so much as to make a point. 

  • Gmcclen

    When are we going to hear Lache’s side of the story? Considering that you are a writer for a newspaper, wouldn’t it make sense for you to ask Lache rather than your readers?

    • Duck Fan 123

      You can’t blame this writter. He and all other journalist have ZERO chance of getting a quote!!! The UofO is understandably on lock down until NCAA investigations are more known. It’s simple…once you lawyer up you shut up! Yes, we will get Lache’s side, but it will be a part of the clean up and reputation rebuild after any discipline has been handed out.

      • Guest

        I am sure the players are strongly being instructed not to comment. Especially Lache and LaMichael. They will surely talk to people within the University and the NCAA and then to the media when the time is appropriate. I am a Beaver, but wish the best for these kids who have succeeded despite upbringings most of us can’t imagine. 

    • jb

      It’s called a rhetorical question…not really to be answered, so much as to make a point. 

  • Don Collicott

    NICE
    WELL I AM SURE THE NCAA HAS HIS SIDE OF THE STORY
    AND I AM SURE HE IS THE ONE WHO WANTED TO COME TO OREGON
    MONEY HAD NO PART IN THAT CHOICE NOR DO I BELEIVE LYLES DID EITHER
    DOES ANYONE REMEMBER THAT CHIP RAN THIS THROUGH THE COMPLIANCE DEPARTMENT.
    LYLES SAID HE NEVER TOLD ANY PLAYER WERE TO GO TO SCHOOL!
    AS FAR AS THE GRANDMA, SHE WAS THE ONE WHO RAISED LACHE WHILE THE MOTHER
    WAS HAVING PROBLEMS IN HER LIFE.
    QUESTION REALLY IS WAS IT THE MOTHERS CHOICE WERE HE WENT TO SCHOOL OR LACHE’S?

    • Bruise10

      I wish I shared your belief that the NCAA had his side of the story.  The NCAA has a history of leaving the kids out of it and changing life for them in the future.  I hope Lache doesn’t get thrown under the bus when he just wants to go to school, play football and better his life.
       

  • Don Collicott

    NICE
    WELL I AM SURE THE NCAA HAS HIS SIDE OF THE STORY
    AND I AM SURE HE IS THE ONE WHO WANTED TO COME TO OREGON
    MONEY HAD NO PART IN THAT CHOICE NOR DO I BELEIVE LYLES DID EITHER
    DOES ANYONE REMEMBER THAT CHIP RAN THIS THROUGH THE COMPLIANCE DEPARTMENT.
    LYLES SAID HE NEVER TOLD ANY PLAYER WERE TO GO TO SCHOOL!
    AS FAR AS THE GRANDMA, SHE WAS THE ONE WHO RAISED LACHE WHILE THE MOTHER
    WAS HAVING PROBLEMS IN HER LIFE.
    QUESTION REALLY IS WAS IT THE MOTHERS CHOICE WERE HE WENT TO SCHOOL OR LACHE’S?

    • Bruise10

      I wish I shared your belief that the NCAA had his side of the story.  The NCAA has a history of leaving the kids out of it and changing life for them in the future.  I hope Lache doesn’t get thrown under the bus when he just wants to go to school, play football and better his life.
       

  • Prophet2133

    This seems like a nice introduction. I’m hoping the same thing will happen. It seems obvious that Lyles did not steer these kids to any certain school but people love controversy and want to see the big guys fall. Good luck on becoming a beat writer for a team. Right now I think I’d like reading your articles in the Oregonian a lot more than reading Canzano’s..

  • Prophet2133

    This seems like a nice introduction. I’m hoping the same thing will happen. It seems obvious that Lyles did not steer these kids to any certain school but people love controversy and want to see the big guys fall. Good luck on becoming a beat writer for a team. Right now I think I’d like reading your articles in the Oregonian a lot more than reading Canzano’s..

  • Dee

    Great Job Lucas

  • Dee

    Great Job Lucas

  • Ben

    Good article. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ben

    Good article. Thanks for sharing.

  • D. Carter

    Thanks Lucas.  Its about time someone has a point to make without trying to RAILROAD our team before the facts are in.  Lache does deserve a chance to tell his side and I believe when he does, he deserves an apology from all those naysayer fans.

  • D. Carter

    Thanks Lucas.  Its about time someone has a point to make without trying to RAILROAD our team before the facts are in.  Lache does deserve a chance to tell his side and I believe when he does, he deserves an apology from all those naysayer fans.

  • JDuck

    Good Luck with your new job.  I have enjoyed your articles, especially the student part of student-athelete.  Stories on the new players would be welcome.

  • JDuck

    Good Luck with your new job.  I have enjoyed your articles, especially the student part of student-athelete.  Stories on the new players would be welcome.

  • Jay

    Lucas, just finished reading your insightful article on Lache’s backstory and his relationship with Willie Lyles. It is always amazing to me how professional sports reporters, even on the national level, so casually convey THEIR truth of a story- often with the most obvious of goals; to sell newspapers or their street cred in the media. Unfortunately, this has been John Canzano’s MO for way to long; condemn when the initial news comes out yet jump on the band wagon on the back end when the truth (especially as Chip’s patient style has become better known) is revealed. It is no different with this story as it concerns Lyle’s involvement with the UO, LM or Lache; it certianly does not look good on first pass BUT when you dig deeper (as you have done) you see an entirely different side to the story.
    It is ALOT less exciting to read, no smoking guns or seedy back stories, just a 18 year old kid with a checkered youth trying to do good.
    THANKS so much for posting, as I hope and pray SOME credible Sports Center reporter should have enough interest to contact you and get the “rest of the story” (as paul Harvey used to say…). There is NO doubt in my mind that Johnny C will NOT be referencing your take in any article he writes in the near future as that would not help him in his goal of being the VOICE of authority in the local sports scene and certainly ALL circumstances related to the Ducks travails.

  • Jay

    Lucas, just finished reading your insightful article on Lache’s backstory and his relationship with Willie Lyles. It is always amazing to me how professional sports reporters, even on the national level, so casually convey THEIR truth of a story- often with the most obvious of goals; to sell newspapers or their street cred in the media. Unfortunately, this has been John Canzano’s MO for way to long; condemn when the initial news comes out yet jump on the band wagon on the back end when the truth (especially as Chip’s patient style has become better known) is revealed. It is no different with this story as it concerns Lyle’s involvement with the UO, LM or Lache; it certianly does not look good on first pass BUT when you dig deeper (as you have done) you see an entirely different side to the story.
    It is ALOT less exciting to read, no smoking guns or seedy back stories, just a 18 year old kid with a checkered youth trying to do good.
    THANKS so much for posting, as I hope and pray SOME credible Sports Center reporter should have enough interest to contact you and get the “rest of the story” (as paul Harvey used to say…). There is NO doubt in my mind that Johnny C will NOT be referencing your take in any article he writes in the near future as that would not help him in his goal of being the VOICE of authority in the local sports scene and certainly ALL circumstances related to the Ducks travails.

  • Zombiehulkk

    Kudos to Lucas for not finding the ducks guilty before all the evidence is weighed. I cannot stomach casino for whatever reason his glass is always empty when it comes to his view about the ducks. Lucas your a class act!!!

  • Zombiehulkk

    Kudos to Lucas for not finding the ducks guilty before all the evidence is weighed. I cannot stomach casino for whatever reason his glass is always empty when it comes to his view about the ducks. Lucas your a class act!!!

  • Yeppinger

    Perhaps John Canzano should do his homework and background reserach and read this and learn the “rest of the story”.

  • Yeppinger

    Perhaps John Canzano should do his homework and background reserach and read this and learn the “rest of the story”.

  • allee

    After reading so many negative stories concerning Lache and the Oregon football program…it is great to have a positive report.  Great job…keep up the honest writing

  • allee

    After reading so many negative stories concerning Lache and the Oregon football program…it is great to have a positive report.  Great job…keep up the honest writing

  • Lbwagner25

    Lucas, what a great and insightful article.  Your experience in class shed more light into Lache’s life than a year’s worth of Canzano’s “research”.
    Exposing his very difficult upbringing and the resulting sensitive yet strong character makes all our hearts proud to even be on the same team.

    Sounds like the type of young man you want your daughter to meet.

    But let’s play some football first…

  • Lbwagner25

    Lucas, what a great and insightful article.  Your experience in class shed more light into Lache’s life than a year’s worth of Canzano’s “research”.
    Exposing his very difficult upbringing and the resulting sensitive yet strong character makes all our hearts proud to even be on the same team.

    Sounds like the type of young man you want your daughter to meet.

    But let’s play some football first…

  • C.M.C.78

    I made brief eye contact with him when he was walking inside after a spring practice. I looked down because I knew he had to have been dealing with a lot and I didn’t want to stare. He was exactly as you write, very aware and sort of had his heart on his sleeve. I wish I could tell him that I sympathize with him to a degree that would seem unlikely given my rather sheltered background. I believe he’s in the best place right now. Those guys will take care of him. God bless that team. Seriously.

  • C.M.C.78

    I made brief eye contact with him when he was walking inside after a spring practice. I looked down because I knew he had to have been dealing with a lot and I didn’t want to stare. He was exactly as you write, very aware and sort of had his heart on his sleeve. I wish I could tell him that I sympathize with him to a degree that would seem unlikely given my rather sheltered background. I believe he’s in the best place right now. Those guys will take care of him. God bless that team. Seriously.

  • C.M.C.78

    Great perspective, by the way. Very respectful of the fact that people have eyes, ears, and hearts.

  • C.M.C.78

    Great perspective, by the way. Very respectful of the fact that people have eyes, ears, and hearts.

  • Reader

    Not sure how Lache’s side of the story changes anything?  The fact remains that Oregon a LOT of cash to a guy closely associated with a recruit.   Most would agree that Lyles was like a father to Lache.  Would you have a problem if Layles WAS Lache’s father? Of Course.  It’s basically the same thing.   Think about it.

  • Reader

    Not sure how Lache’s side of the story changes anything?  The fact remains that Oregon a LOT of cash to a guy closely associated with a recruit.   Most would agree that Lyles was like a father to Lache.  Would you have a problem if Layles WAS Lache’s father? Of Course.  It’s basically the same thing.   Think about it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Keith-Dennis/1081164398 Keith Dennis

    I asked Ted Miller, the ESPN Pac-12 blogger, during an internet chat whether he’d read your article.  He kind of gave me a blow-off answer: “The side of the story that Lache appears to be a good guy? The story is
    about NCAA rules and this gray area of scouting services and street
    agents. It was a nice feature, but it was a feature that isn’t relevant
    to the NCAA inquiry or to Oregon’s guilt or innocence. I always thought
    highly of Reggie Bush when I interviewed him.”  I’m mentally preparing myself for this whole thing to not go well for Oregon, but reading your article makes me feel not necessarily more hopeful, but at least less cynical about the situation.  I wish there were more writers willing to provide a larger context to this and other stories.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Keith-Dennis/1081164398 Keith Dennis

    I asked Ted Miller, the ESPN Pac-12 blogger, during an internet chat whether he’d read your article.  He kind of gave me a blow-off answer: “The side of the story that Lache appears to be a good guy? The story is
    about NCAA rules and this gray area of scouting services and street
    agents. It was a nice feature, but it was a feature that isn’t relevant
    to the NCAA inquiry or to Oregon’s guilt or innocence. I always thought
    highly of Reggie Bush when I interviewed him.”  I’m mentally preparing myself for this whole thing to not go well for Oregon, but reading your article makes me feel not necessarily more hopeful, but at least less cynical about the situation.  I wish there were more writers willing to provide a larger context to this and other stories.