Santa Monica (Calif.) football star and USC commit Sebastian LaRue is a 5-foot-11, 188-pound package of power who plays both sides of the ball. His dynamic ability caught the attention of the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2013 Under Armour All-America Game.
It’s hard to believe that LaRue hasn't always loved football. In fact, he quit his youth football team at age 10.
“These guys are going to run full-speed to try and take my head off?” says LaRue of his initial impression of the game. “It just wasn’t an idea I liked at the time.”
Things changed in middle school.
“My thought was if I play offense, I can run really fast, and I don’t have to deal with guys who are trying to hit me,” he says.
What hit him instead was success — lots of it.
We caught up with LaRue and asked him about transitioning from a player who was afraid of the game to a player that opponents fear.
What inspired you to give football another shot?
My brother. He’s very close to me, and I remember going to see him play for the first time. It was amazing. He had three touchdowns and an interception — he just made a lot of plays happen. I hold that memory very near and dear to my heart.
Once I got to sixth or seventh grade, I tried it again. I played for Inglewood Jets Pop Warner, and I was really good. People were telling me, ‘You’re really good. You can go far in this.’ That’s when I really focused and put my mind into the sport.
What have you learned throughout your career that’s been key to your success?
Everyone has a drive in them to do something good. It’s whether you really want it or not. What really helped me make it is my approach: hard work. You can’t really achieve greatness unless you work hard. I’ve really improved my work ethic over the past two years. What you put in is what you’re going to get out. Everything you do in your lifestyle really affects your play. You notice it once you change things up. When I’m sitting at home watching TV, I’ll knock out 100 pushups and do sit-ups. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night and go run.
Tell us about your training.
Offseason, I'm in the weight room six days a week. In-season, twice a week to keep my body fresh.
I do a lot of explosive training. When I lift, I don’t try to rep out a bunch of heavy weight. When I squat, I use light weight but [perform] a lot of reps, and I explode on the way up. I do Olympic lifting and single-leg squats with my bodyweight, squats, pushups, pullups, sit-ups. Everything I do is pretty standard — basic lifts, and I just do it to the best of my ability.
What advice do you have for athletes who want to succeed like you have?
It takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and you gotta listen to your coaches. You can pretty much make it anywhere.
Also, focus in school. Grades do count freshman year. Be more attentive to what people are trying to tell you. Freshman year, I was very rebellious for a lot of different reasons. A lot was going on. I think back on it now, and I could have avoided a lot of things if I just took the time to listen to what people were trying to tell me.