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Lyerla: Bust for cocaine a 'life-changer'

(The Register-Guard) — It was the best of times for Oregon football, and the worst of times for Colt Lyerla.

On Oct. 23, the Ducks were undefeated, ranked No. 2 in the polls and a healthy Marcus Mariota was the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy.

That's also the day Colt Lyerla, who quit the program on Oct. 6, was arrested and booked into the Lane County Jail on charges of unlawful possession of cocaine and interfering with a police officer.

Oregon went on to finish 11-2 in Mark Helfrich's first season as head coach. While the Ducks were in San Antonio preparing for the victory over Texas in the Alamo Bowl, Lyerla pleaded guilty to cocaine possession on Dec. 28 and began training for a professional career in Las Vegas.

On Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, Lyerla spoke to reporters for the first time about his fall from grace.

"Definitely the lowest point for me was getting in trouble and having it be completely public," Lyerla said. "That was just a real life-changer for me, and it really humbled me, and showed me what I need to do from here on out. ...

"The night I spent in jail, that was huge for me. It gave me time to self-reflect and realize that's a place I never want to be again."

The 6-4, 242-pound tight end did not reveal his reason for leaving the Ducks in the middle of his junior season, but he admitted it was a mistake.

"I can't really say too much about that, but it's something I deeply, deeply regret and it's a mistake I'll have to live with the rest of my life," Lyerla said.

Lyerla missed the Sept. 14 victory over Tennessee because of what Helfrich described as "circumstances" and was suspended for the Oct. 5 road win at Colorado. The broken bonds with his former coaches and teammates at Oregon are relationships he would like to repair.

"I've had not as much contact as I would like, but it's grown more and more by each day," Lyerla said. "And I think if I do the right things, then I'll come out of this and be able to go back to Oregon in good faith."

Lyerla had 34 receptions for 565 yards and 11 touchdowns during his Oregon career. He also had 16 rushes for 94 yards and two touchdowns.

Earlier this week, NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said Lyerla is a "first- or second-round talent" who teams will be tempted to take a chance on late in the draft.

If former Oregon coach Chip Kelly is interested in taking another chance on him, the athletic and versatile Lyerla would like to start over in Philadelphia.

"I feel like me and Chip had a good player-coach relationship, and I'd love to play for the Eagles," Lyerla said. "So we'll see what happens."

Other former Oregon players at the combine this weekend are running back De'Anthony Thomas, wide receiver Josh Huff, defensive lineman Taylor Hart, linebacker Boseko Lokombo and cornerback Terrance Mitchell.

Follow Ryan on Twitter @rgduckfootball


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