Ducks Got Trojan Defection From Carroll Ejection?

On Jan. 27, 2010, Lache Seastrunk, the high profile Oregon running back who Will Lyles reportedly “mentored” during Seastrunk’s recruitment, verbally committed to the Ducks. Seastrunk made it official a week later, signing with the school to play football.

Pete Carroll and Will Lyles at USC

Six weeks later Lyles was sent a check for $25,000 by the state of Oregon after invoicing the Univ. of Oregon for providing the Ducks football program with recruiting videos from 22 states. Oregon football coach Chip Kelly has yet to confirm if he or a member of his staff ever received the videos.

Those facts have the NCAA wondering if Oregon paid Lyles for services that were never rendered. If that indeed was the case, then the NCAA might also examine the possibility that Lyles, who is well-known in college coaching circles as a street agent who pushes recruits to certain schools, had undue influence over Seastrunk during his recruitment.

Will Lyles and Lache Seastrunk

Though if you believe multiple reports from main media sources and comments from Seastrunk himself, the former Texas high school star may have actually committed to Oregon Pac-10 rival USC instead had then-coach Pete Carroll not left for the Seattle Seahawks less than a month before signing day.

On Feb. 1, 2010, John Hunt of the PORTLAND OREGONIAN wrote:

The comparison most often made is to former USC running back Reggie Bush, and Seastrunk was set to follow in Bush’s footsteps until coach Pete Carroll left for the Seattle Seahawks.

On Jan. 27, 2010, Kristian Dyer of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED wrote:

Considered one of the nation’s top running back recruits, Seastrunk was originally considered a USC lock. But the departure of former Trojans head coach Pete Carroll led Seastrunk to re-consider his options. The source said Seastrunk settled on Oregon in early January, around the time he played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

From the June 2009 video below from Kevin Carden of Scout’s, it isn’t hard to understand why main media reporters and recruiting experts thought Seastrunk a lock for USC.

During the annual “Rising Stars Camp” for high school football prospects held at USC, an off-camera Pete Carroll can be heard encouraging the players during drills. Also in the same proximity to Carroll and mostly off-camera is the same Will Lyles who “mentored” Lache Seastrunk.

How do we know that?

During a passing drill, before a receiver ran a route near Lyles (and Carroll), then-USC assistant coach Ken Norton, Jr., can be heard yelling, “hey Will Lyles!

As the play progressed in Lyles’ direction, he is briefly seen on-screen having a laugh.

Of Ken Norton Jr., who was heavily involved in USC’s recruitment of Seastrunk, Scott Schrader of wrote on Oct. 26, 2009:

Ken Norton has done an exceptional job recruiting the state of Texas and he and Seastrunk talk often.

“I talk to him every day,” said Seastrunk about Norton. “We don’t really ever talk about football, we talk about everyday life. I just talk to him when I call him.”

Although he doesn’t have any plans for an official visit, Seastrunk said he has unofficially visited USC before. We asked him if he calls any other coaches as often as he does Norton and if he has a close relationship with the USC linebackers coach?

“No sir,” said Seastrunk when asked if talks to other coaches as often as he does with Coach Norton. “I have a real close relationship with Coach Norton and Coach (Pete) Carroll. I just love Coach Carroll and he’s an amazing coach. I met him when I visited USC.”

Norton also accompanied Carroll to Seattle as the Seahawks linebackers coach, which may have been another factor in why Seastrunk eschewed USC.

The day Seastrunk verbally committed to Oregon, Kevin Posival of the KILLEEN DAILY HERALD reported from the scene what Seastrunk said of Carroll and USC:

“I love SC’s program because Peter Carroll is a very, very amazing coach. But also at the same time, when I realized what was going on, I couldn’t picture myself at SC anymore,” Seastrunk said.

“It was a really big disappointment because … you’ve got a lot of guys committed to SC and you just up and leave. It doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me.”

Seastrunk’s decision to choose Oregon over USC “was a really big disappointment” to Trojan fans too.

At the time.

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