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Ex-Oregon TE Colt Lyerla addresses cocaine arrest at combine

For former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla, the interview chair will feel more like a dentist's chair this week at the NFL Scouting Combine, where his arrest and subsequent guilty plea for cocaine possession will be at the heart of his conversations with all 32 NFL clubs.

Lyerla's troubled timeline is a lengthy one. He was dismissed from the Oregon football team in October for an unspecified team rules violation. On Thursday, he left it unspecified, but let on that it was no small matter to him personally.

"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," he said.

That wasn't the only issue Lyerla has dealt with. Weeks after his dismissal, Lyerla was arrested for cocaine possession when police witnessed him using the drug in his car. He later ran from police, compounding his troubles, when they attempted to continue the investigation at his residence. Lyerla spent a day in jail and another nine days working on a road crew.

"That was huge for me," he said. "It gave me a lot of time to self-reflect and realize that's a place I never want to be again."

There are probation terms that will linger into his NFL career, and Lyerla's draft status has predictably taken a beating. NFL Media analyst Mike Mayock sees Lyerla as a first-round talent who could be drafted as late as the fifth round because of the risk his character presents.

And with the NFL draft less than three months away, Lyerla is looking to show NFL clubs this week that he deserves a chance.

"I think the biggest thing was just making the choice to move away from home and get myself in a place to where I'm only doing positive things," he said. "Just continuing to stay on the right track. ... Mainly, it was having a big sit-down with my family and coming to an agreement with myself as far as the negative things I was doing and what I need to do to change."

Lyerla indicated his relationship with the current Oregon coaching staff is damaged, but improving. His communication with the staff has increased, he said, and "if I do the right things, I'll come out of this and be able to go back to Oregon in good favor."

Lyerla said he'd like to play for the Philadelphia Eagles, where his former Oregon coach, Chip Kelly, is now the head coach.

More than likely, a number of NFL clubs won't even have him on their draft boards.

"I put myself in a position where my back's against the wall, to the point that if I don't do everything perfect and the right way, I won't be able to play football, let alone be successful in any shape or form," he said.

For Lyerla, the first real step to convincing an NFL team that he is worthy of a draft pick begins this week.

The question is, who will listen?

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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