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Extra Points: Lyerla seeks redemption at combine

<p>Famed playwright George Bernard Shaw was on to something when he said "youth was wasted on the young."</p>

(SportsNetwork.com) - Famed playwright George Bernard Shaw was on to something when he said "youth was wasted on the young."

We are all at our physical peaks in our youth and our minds are as sharp and clear as they ever will be, but most young people lack the patience, maturity and wisdom to take advantage of those gifts.

Former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla is living proof of that thesis, an extremely talented NFL prospect who was seemingly intent on speeding toward the potholes littering his path.

The 6-foot-4, 242-pound Lyerla quit on his team in early October last year for what was described as personal reasons.

"I can't really say too much about that, but all I can really say is it's something I deeply regret and it's a mistake I'll have to live with for the rest of my life," Lyerla said at the NFL Combine last week.

At least one of the problems came to light two weeks after Lyerla went AWOL from the Ducks when he was arrested after police spotted him in a parked car "snorting what appeared to be a white powdery substance."

"Definitely the lowest point for me was getting in trouble and having it be completely public," Lyerla said when discussing his arrest. "That was just a real life-changer for me, and it really humbled me, and showed me what I need to do from here on out."

Lyerla eventually pleaded guilty to the unlawful possession of cocaine and was sentenced to 24 months of probation, 10 days in jail and 40 hours of community service.

"I think 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've changed and I'm changing and I've matured since I made those mistakes," Lyerla continued.

He also was ordered to attend a certified treatment program, group meetings similar to Narcotics Anonymous and submit to random urinalysis.

"Everything is out on the table and it's all up to me now to make sure I do the right things and stay on the right path," he said.

Lyerla's first chance to put some of his past troubles behind him came last Friday in the bench press, but his 15 repetitions of 225 pounds tied for fewest among tight ends at the combine and were 20 fewer than the leader, Dixie State specimen Joe Don Duncan.

"Since I got in trouble, I didn't get to get out of Eugene as fast as I would have liked, so I only had a couple weeks to train," Lyerla countered. "I'd say that I'm light and athletic right now, and hopefully that will show in some of the speed drills."

It did.

A day later, Lyerla showed off the strengths of his particular skill set -- his athleticism.

The Hillsboro, Ore., native exploded with a 4.47-second unofficial 40-yard dash, a number which seemed to be too good to be true and was, eventually downgraded to 4.61 but still good enough to be the third-best mark for any tight end in Indianapolis, behind only first-round lock Eric Ebron of North Carolina and Tennessee State's A.C. Leonard.

Lyerla and Leonard went on to tie for the farthest broad jump amongst the tight ends at 128 inches apiece before Lyerla paced the position group with a 36 1/2-inch vertical leap.

"For having one week to train, I'm not mad at the numbers," Lyerla wrote on Twitter. "Room for improvement."

Many NFL teams have undoubtedly already put the red flag on Lyerla and taken him off their draft boards entirely. Others, however, will be lured in by the siren's song of athleticism as well as Lyerla's versatility -- he occasionally lined up at running back at Oregon -- and consider him later in the draft.

"I think that's one of the advantages I bring in this tight end group, is versatility, and, of course, I'd love to be able to do that for any team at the next level," Lyerla said. "But, whatever the team needs me to do, I'll do it, whether that's special teams or just regular blocking tight end, whatever it is, I'm going to do it."

The fact that this draft contains some really solid tight end prospects like Ebron, Texas Tech's Jace Amaro, Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Notre Dame's Troy Niklas won't help Lyerla, but he has already overcome far bigger hurdles.

"I'd say that I've put myself in a position where my back's against the wall," Lyerla said. "If I don't do everything perfect and the right way, then I won't be able to play football, let alone be successful in any shape and form."

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