Colt Lyerla

Ducks’ probe of Colt Lyerla’s allegations finds no NCAA no-nos

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Pardon me while I tidy up this bit of business from a few months ago.

If you remember back to early September of last year, former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla claimed in an interview that, during the recruiting process that led to him becoming a Duck, he “was promised a house, a car, all these things” if he’d come to Eugene. While Lyerla went on to further claim that he was never given the impermissible benefits he was promised, UO launched an investigation into the allegations that he was offered said things by a booster.

Not surprisingly, UO has concluded that no evidence of any type of improprieties during Lyerla’s recruitment exist. From a statement originally sent to KOIN-TV:

“Our internal investigation concluded that no NCAA violations occurred. The PAC-12/NCAA, to our knowledge, is not conducting an investigation.”

The school also noted that it actually wrapped up its investigation in October of last year, one month after Lyerla’s allegations surfaced.

Lyerla was arrested for cocaine possession in October of 2013, a couple of weeks after he parted ways with the Ducks midseason on what he described as “good terms.” He wasn’t selected in last year’s draft and was cut by the Green Bay Packers in August after signing as an undrafted free agent. The Oregonian writes that “Lyerla is in the midst of trying to persuade an NFL team to take a flier on him.”

Colt Lyerla: Oregon booster ‘promised a house, a car, all these things’

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It’s been quite a while since we’ve had any type of illicit and/or impermissible benefit accusations lobbed by former players, so let’s just go ahead and dive headfirst into this one.

SBNation.com took an excellent long-form look Wednesday at Colt Lyerla, the former Oregon Duck who is attempting to put his personal and football-playing life back together following an October arrest for cocaine possession.  That arrest came three weeks or so after he left the Oregon football program under what the player described as “good terms.”

Whether the terms will be good moving forward remains to be seen.

During the course of the profile, Lyerla spoke of the recruiting process leading up to signing with Oregon.  Specifically, Lyerla talked about how he was close to signing with USC… until an offer was put on the table he — or more specifically his mother — couldn’t refuse.

[His and his high school athletic director] enthusiasm dampened when an unofficial adviser weighed in. Lyerla declines publicly to identify the man, a powerful University of Oregon booster known to the family. The adviser made the benefits of that decision clear. If Lyerla went to Oregon, “I was promised a house, a car, all these things.”

Lyerla knew the man had the means to deliver on his guarantees. Tammy knew that as well, too, and now she leaned on her son to sign with the Ducks, a change Lyerla believes was made with the best intentions, but inspired by her precarious living situation. “All of a sudden, it was ‘You need to go to Oregon. That’s the best place for you. They’re going to take care of you,’ he says. “My mom was really impressionable. When it was me and my mom in high school, it was $600 a month for the both of us. That’s how we lived … anything good financial-wise that would take care of me or take care of her, she was going to go for it.”

“I was kind of not enticed, but almost entrapped by [the booster],” Lyerla was quoted as saying.  Lyerla, who went undrafted in May and was cut by the Green Bay Packers in August following an injury, said he initially attempted to get out of his signed National Letter of Intent in order to play for the Trojans, but ultimately changed course and begrudgingly remained in Eugene.

But, the benefits he recei… well, not only did Lyerla not get to go to the school of his choice, but he didn’t even get the benefits allegedly promised to him.

He never received any of the benefits that were promised to him, not the house and not the car. “It ended up being the exact opposite,” he says. “I didn’t get any of that. There were always excuses as to why I didn’t get those things — [like] I wasn’t doing [something] right. I felt played.”

Tide’s Sunseri one of record 98 players declaring for draft

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A draft-eligible Alabama rumored to be headed to the NFL — or not — will indeed be a part of a record-breaking pool this May.

Tide defensive back Vinnie Sunseri was one of 98 players included on the NFL’s official list, released Sunday, of players “who have been granted special eligibility” for the upcoming draft.  It was reported a week ago that the safety was leaning toward making the early leap into the NFL, although there was some vacillation as the redshirt junior waited until right up until the Jan. 15 deadline — plus the three additional days allotted to reconsider, provided there’s no signing with an agent — before making his final decision.

Sunseri is still rehabbing a torn ACL, which he suffered in a mid-October win over Arkansas.

The 98 players granted special eligibility by the NFL is a record, shattering and/or obliterating the old mark of 73 set just last year.  That standard broke the record of 65 set the year before that.  In 2004, just 43 players with eligibility remaining left school early.

For the second consecutive year, LSU led all schools with seven early entrants.  In 2013, the Tigers saw 10 players leave early.  Sunseri gave the Tide five players leaving early, the same number as USC and one-win Cal (?).  Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame and South Carolina each saw four players take the early jump into the NFL.

2014 marks the sixth consecutive year that the number of early entrants has increased.

The number could have actually topped the century mark as four players who have left school early but have already graduated were not included in the NFL’s official count: Southern California defensive back Dion Bailey, Arizona State linebacker Carl Bradford, Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Alabama linebacker Adrian Hubbard.

You can view the complete, official list of early entrants into the NFL draft:

(more…)

An unofficial list of underclassmen who declared for the NFL draft

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The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL draft is upon us. It looks like we’ll have a record 92 (at minimum) declarations this year, easily topping last year’s record of 73. This draft should be among the most talent-laden in recent history.

Why the sudden exodus? Blame the new rookie wage scale, which rewards less money to first round draft picks and delays the big payout until a player’s second contract. That means the more time spent in the league, the better. A lot of these players want to get moving on proving themselves, even if they are a late round pick at the start.

Here’s the unofficial list of early entries as of the Jan. 15 deadline. The NFL will have an official list on Jan. 19:

Davante Adams, WR, Fresno State
Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
George Atkinson III, RB, Notre Dame
Dion Bailey, S, USC
Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU
Kapri Bibbs, RB, Colorado State
Brendan Bigelow, RB, California
Russell Bodine, C, North Carolina
Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida
Chris Boyd, WR, Vanderbilt
Carl Bradford, DE/OLB, Arizona State
Bashaud Breeland, DB, Clemson
Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville
Martavis Bryant, WR, Clemson
Ka’Deem Carey, RB, Arizona
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, DB, Alabama
Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina
Brandon Coleman, WR, Rutgers
Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State
Scott Crichton, DE, Oregon State
Isaiah Crowell, RB, Alabama State
Jonathan Dowling, S, Western Kentucky
Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri
Dominique Easley, DT, Florida
Eric Ebron, TE, North Carolina
Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M
Ego Ferguson, DT, LSU
Mike Flacco, TE, New Haven
Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford
Khairi Fortt, LB, California
Austin Franklin, WR, New Mexico State
Devonta Freeman, RB, Florida State
Xavier Grimble, TE, USC
Vic Hampton, CB, South Carolina
Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
Adrian Hubbard, LB, Alabama
Kameron Jackson, CB, California
Anthony Johnson, DT, LSU
Storm Johnson, RB, UCF
Henry Josey, RB, Missouri
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT, Alabama
Jarvis Landry, WR, LSU
Cody Latimer, WR, Indiana
Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Boise State
Marqise Lee, WR, USC
A.C. Leonard, TE, Tennessee State
Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon
Aaron Lynch, DE, USF
Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M
Marcus Martin, C, USC
Tre Mason, RB, Auburn
Terrance Mitchell, CB, Oregon
Viliami Moala, DT, California
Donte Moncrief, WR, Ole Miss
Adam Muema, RB, San Diego State
Jake Murphy, TE, Utah
Troy Niklas, TE, Notre Dame
Louis Nix III, DT, Notre Dame
Jeoffrey Pagan, DL, Alabama
Ronald Powell, LB, Florida
Calvin Pryor, S, Louisville
Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
Kelcy Quarles, DL, South Carolina
Darrin Reaves, RB, UAB
Ed Reynolds, FS, Stanford
Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado
Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida
Allen Robinson, WR, Penn State
Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn
Bradley Roby, CB, Ohio State
Richard Rodgers, TE California
Bishop Sankey, RB, Washington
Lache Seastrunk, RB, Baylor
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, TE, Washington
Ryan Shazier, LB, Ohio State
Yawin Smallwood, LB, UConn
Brett Smith, QB, Wyoming
Jerome Smith, RB, Syracuse
Willie Snead, WR, Ball State
Josh Stewart, WR, Oklahoma State
Xavier Su’a-Filo, OL, UCLA
De’Anthony Thomas, RB, Oregon
Stephon Tuitt, DE, Notre Dame
Trai Turner, OG, LSU
George Uko, DL, USC
Pierre Warren, FS, Jacksonville State
Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
Terrance West, RB, Towson
James Wilder Jr., RB, Florida State
David Yankey, OL, Stanford

Former Oregon TE Colt Lyerla pleads guilty to cocaine possession

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Former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla, who left the Ducks’ program back in October, pled guilty to cocaine possession on Friday.

He was placed on probation for two years and sentenced to 10 days in jail, with another 10 days on suspension. He’ll also have to enroll in a drug treatment program.

However, the decision by the judge to have him serve his probation under the court rather than under a probation officer means he’ll be able to leave the state to prepare for the NFL draft. He plans on doing so in Nevada.

The immensely talented tight end cut his junior season short in early October, when he withdrew from Oregon and declared his intention to make himself available for the NFL draft. Less than three weeks later, he was arrested on the drug charge.

Lyerl caught just two passes for 26 yards this season, but he caught 25 for 392 yards and six touchdowns in 2012.

He’s obviously an intriguing physical prospect at 6-foot-5, 250 pounds. Perhaps he can clean himself up in time to persuade some NFL team take a flyer on him.

But with the Aaron Hernandez ordeal still fresh in everyone’s mind, I wouldn’t count on it.