Tight end Colt Lyerla quit the Oregon football team on Sunday, one day after serving a one-game suspension against Colorado.
Thus ended the collegiate career of the former five-star recruit from Hillsboro High School whose athleticism not only made him a touchdown-machine at tight end but also a powerful running back at times for the Ducks.
Oregon announced Lyerla’s departure Sunday evening “for personal reasons,” about an hour and a half after coach Mark Helfrich’s weekly conference call with reporters. Asked during that call if Lyerla joined team activities on Sunday as expected, Helfrich said that Lyerla “was at treatment today.”
According to UO, Lyerla came in for treatment Sunday morning and later met with Helfrich.
Helfrich suspended Lyerla for the Colorado game but said afterward that he expected the tight end to return to the team.
Lyerla was a major recruit for Oregon after he was named to the U.S. Army All-American game following his senior season at Hillsboro, where he was a standout running back and linebacker.
He was put at tight end when he joined the Ducks and had seven catches for 147 yards as a freshman, but five of those catches went for touchdowns. Last year, he had 25 catches for 392 yards and six touchdowns while running for 77 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries to earn honorable-mention all-Pac-12 honors. Lyerla had two catches for 26 yards in three games this season along with three rushes for 17 yards and a touchdown.
In his career, Lyerla had 34 catches for 565 yards and 11 scores to go with 16 carries for 94 yards and two scores.
According to a release from UO, Lyerla plans to focus on a pro career instead of transferring to another school. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound junior can declare for the NFL draft next year and was listed as a potential first-round pick in some mock drafts before the season.
“I love everyone at Oregon; everyone’s on good terms, I believe,” Lyerla said in a statement from the athletic department. “Just for my own benefit, it was time to move on.”
Lyerla missed the start of fall camp as a sophomore for undisclosed reasons. He did not play against Tennessee because of “circumstances”, Helfrich said, and Lyerla later told The Oregonian he was sick.
Oregon is inexperienced at tight end without Lyerla. True freshman John Mundt has seven catches for 162 yards and two scores. Sophomore Pharaoh Brown missed the first three games this season and had his first catch for 24 yards against Colorado. He had two catches for 42 yards last year.
“Pharaoh has all the tools,” Helfrich said Sunday night. “He has size, speed, good hands and he’s physical at the line of scrimmage. He can be a complete player. He is one of those guys who needs to play. He played some last year as a true freshman, and his ability and desire are going in the right direction.”