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Talented but troubled Lyerla a tough grade for scouts

By Rob Rang | The Sports Xchange/CBSSports.com

Steve Spurrier is wondering when Jadeveon Clowney might play again for South Carolina.

Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich doesn't even get that luxury as any chance of star tight end Colt Lyerla returning to the field ended Sunday night when the junior announced that he's leaving the program.

"I love everyone at Oregon; everyone's on good terms, I believe," Lyerla is quoted on the school's official athletic website, GoDucks.com. "Just for my own benefit, it was time to move on.

"I wish nothing but the best for coach Helfrich and the team. I love the University of Oregon and am so thankful for every opportunity that I had. I'm going to use everything I learned from this program and do my best to be successful in whatever happens in the future."

Lyerla addressed his future, indicating that he will not be transferring to another school but will instead be preparing for the NFL. As an underclassman, Lyerla will have to petition the NFL for early admittance into the 2014 draft but the third-year junior is technically eligible. He possesses more upside than any of this year's senior crop of tight ends, including NFLDraftScout.com's current top-rated 2014 prospect, C.J. Fiedorowicz of Iowa.

The 6-foot-5, 250 pound Lyerla is a physical marvel with excellent athleticism, good hand-eye coordination and toughness after the catch. He's possesses impressive straight-line speed, as well as the agility and balance to operate in space.

Perhaps due to the incredible talent competing for the ball at Oregon, he never emerged as a statistically dominant player in Eugene. He caught just two passes for 26 yards in his abbreviated 2013 campaign and his career-high 25 catches for 392 yards and six scores last year isn't exactly eye-popping.

Capable of lining up at tight end as well as receiver, athletic seam threats like Lyerla have never been more popular than now and he is clearly a first round talent.

While he possesses tantalizing upside, NFL teams will certainly have to do their homework on Lyerla.

He missed Oregon's September 14 game against Tennessee for what Lyerla said was the stomach flu but Helfrich interestingly enough characterized simply as "circumstances." After voicing his displeasure with his head coach's choice of words, things seemed to calm down recently before Lyerla was surprisingly not among the team as it traveled to play Colorado this weekend.

Lyerla said walking away from the No. 2 team in the country was "completely my decision" and had nothing to do with missing the Colorado game, which Oregon won 57-16.

But given the number of embarrassing off-field issues that have plagued the NFL in recent years, players with any perceived character flaws entering the draft early are doing so at their own risk. As such, Lyerla's willingness to speak openly and honestly to NFL teams about the issue(s) that led to his abrupt leave from Oregon will prove critical towards his final grade.

Speculation will be rampant as to the reason(s) that Lyerla is electing to leave Oregon.

Whatever they may be, here's to hoping that the young man resolves them.

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