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Packers sign troubled former Oregon TE Colt Lyerla

Colt LyerlaColt Lyerla just proved the professional sports adage we’ve all known: if you have talent, there will always be a team willing to give you a shot. And that’s what’s happening in this case.

Lyerla is a former 5-star recruit who left Oregon’s program in October because of a number of behavioral issues, including constantly being late and missing team activities. His professional career seemed in doubt when he was arrested for cocaine possession a few weeks after leaving the football team.

In three seasons, Lyerla posted 34 receptions for 565 yards and 11 touchdowns, and 94 yards and two touchdowns rushing for the Ducks. Though his numbers won’t blow you away, he was versatile, a mismatch and had similar skills to Aaron Hernandez at Florida.

“I’d say he’s as hungry as I’ve ever seen a player,” Lyerla’s agent, Vinnie Porter, told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “As much as you try to avoid the media and some of the stuff that’s being said about you, you still hear a lot of it. The motivating factors are out there for him, and he just doesn’t see himself like he’s portrayed and he’s eager to prove everybody wrong.”

The Packers don’t usually come across as an organization keen on taking chances on character guys the way the Raiders and Bengals frequently do, but with Jermichael Finley recovering from major spine surgery, they probably figured signing Lyerla was worth the shot. I don’t imagine he’ll have a very long playing career.

Colt Lyerla arrested for cocaine possession

Colt Lyerla mug shot

Colt Lyerla was arrested in Lane County, Ore., on Wednesday for cocaine possession, according to a police report. The arrest comes less than three weeks after it was announced the tight end left the Oregon Ducks football program.

Lyerla reportedly was arrested near 7th Ave. and Polk St. in Eugene, which is where the University of Oregon campus is located.

According to a police report, Lyerla happened to park next to some cops who were watching a house under surveillance in an unrelated drug investigation. The police observed Lyerla appearing to snort and possess cocaine. Lyerla allegedly admitted to possessing and using the coke. He agreed to meet the detectives at his apartment, but he supposedly fled once they were inside. The police report states he went to a nearby apartment and was arrested after emerging from the residence a short time later. He was then taken to jail.

Lyerla was a junior tight end who missed two games this season before deciding to leave the program. He reportedly was constantly late or missed team activities, which led coach Mark Helfrich to threaten to kick him off the team if he made one more mistake. Lyerla decided to leave the program to focus on the NFL Draft. He supposedly had stopped showing up to class as well.

Lyerla has all the tools of a strong NFL prospect, but he has serious character issues. In addition to his problems this season, he was also suspended last year by Chip Kelly. Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller first reported news of Lyerla’s arrest.

Colt Lyerla reportedly was constantly late, missed team activities

Colt LyerlaMany were surprised when it was announced on Sunday night that tight end Colt Lyerla was leaving the Oregon Ducks football program. Lyerla had problems throughout his college football career, but a lot of people probably figured the two sides would work things out. Instead, Lyerla has left the team, dropped out of school and will concentrate on his pro career. He’s expected to be one of the top tight end prospects for the NFL Draft.

So what happened with Lyerla and what could lead him to leave the team and drop out of school entirely? Most reports indicate he was becoming irresponsible when it came to both athletics and academics.

Aaron Fentress at Comcast Northwest reported that Lyerla was suspended for last weekend’s 57-16 win at Colorado because he was repeatedly late or missed team activities. Coach Mark Helfrich reportedly was fed up with Lyerla and told the tight end he might get kicked off if he didn’t shape up. That supposedly was enough to convince Lyerla to leave the program.

Additionally, Oregonian columnist John Canzano says Lyerla had become equally flaky when it came to academics and even stopped going to class:

Not only was Lyerla suspended for the Colorado game, but he also missed the Tennessee game. That was another fiasco, because Lyerla said he missed the game because of an illness, while Helfrich was vague with the media, only citing “circumstances” for the tight end’s absence.

These problems are nothing new for Lyerla, who also was suspended when Chip Kelly was the team’s head coach. The junior tight end closes his college career with 34 receptions for 565 yards and 11 touchdowns, and 94 yards and two touchdowns rushing.

(written at request from Ryan)