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Lyerla ready to show he's changed

Ex-Oregon TE Colt Lyerla was on the 2013 Mackey Award watch list before his cocaine arrest. (USATSI)
Ex-Oregon TE Colt Lyerla was on the 2013 Mackey Award watch list before his cocaine arrest.(USATSI)

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INDIANAPOLIS -- An October arrest for possession of cocaine that made national headlines is something former Oregon tight end/running back Colt Lyerla now calls "probably the best thing that's happened to me."

Lyerla, one of the freakiest athletes in Indy, fielded more than a dozen questions Thursday afternoon at the NFL Combine regarding his tumultuous year that left many wondering if the former five-star prospect would ever play football again.

Asked about the cocaine arrest, Lyerla said the incident becoming so public was definitely the lowest point he had in a series of bad turns that cost him a promising career with the Ducks. "It humbled me," Lyerla said.

“The night I spent in jail, that was huge for me. It gave me a lot of time to self-reflect and realize that's a place I don't ever want to be again."

Lyerla said after the jail stay he had to spend 10 days on a road crew as his punishment for the arrest. He added that all his legal issues have been resolved. He said he's looking forward to showing NFL folks that he's a changed man and that he's "not hanging out with the people I was hanging out with before...

"The biggest thing for me is just to be honest and to show remorse where remorse is due and just do my best to prove that I have changed, and that I've matured since I made those mistakes."

The entire 2013 season was a nightmarish one for Lyerla. He missed a September 14 game against Tennessee and didn't accompany the Ducks two weeks later to Colorado. Coach Mark Helfrich said Lyerla was suspended for a game for violating team rules. In early October, Lyerla left the team and opted to get ready for the 2014 NFL draft. This all followed a run of some dubious behavior that had scared off some college coaches in the recruiting process before he'd signed on with Oregon.

On Thursday seated at a round table surrounded by reporters, Lyerla sounded very clear in realizing how close he came to squandering his football career. “I'd say that I put myself in position where my back is against the wall to the point that if I don't do everything perfect and everything the right away, I won't be able to play football.''

The speedy 6-4 athlete who once broad-jumped an eye-popping 11-feet, 3-inches and was utilized as a running back and receiver by former coach Chip Kelly says he has shed 13 pounds--down to 242 in preparation for his workouts.

Lyerla declined to elaborate on exactly why he left the Ducks team last fall, but says he "deeply regrets it. It's something that I'll have to live with."

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