Former Oregon tight end Colt Lyerla, who left the second-ranked Ducks earlier this month following a one-game suspension for violating team rules, was in custody Thursday after his arrest on drug-related charges in Eugene.
The sheriff's office said in a statement that Lyerla was observed by a drug investigation unit snorting a white powdery substance while sitting in a parked car Wednesday. The 20-year-old Lyerla was arrested on suspicion of unlawful possession of cocaine and interfering with a police officer.
When he decided to leave the Ducks, Lyerla said it was to pursue an NFL career. He had been suspended for Oregon's Oct. 5 game at Colorado by coach Mark Helfrich for an unspecified violation of team rules.
At the time, Lyerla told Oregon's athletics website, GoDucks.com, that his withdrawal from school had nothing to do with that suspension.
"I love everyone at Oregon; everyone's on good terms, I believe," Lyerla said. "Just for my own benefit, it was time to move on."
Lyerla was arraigned on Thursday afternoon but he did not enter a plea. He was scheduled to appear Oct. 28 for evaluation in the drug court. If he completes the program, the felony possession charge will be dropped.
He was represented by John Tyner, father of Oregon freshman running back Thomas Tyner. The elder Tyner was trying to secure Lyerla's release from jail.
Along with missing Oregon's 57-16 victory over the Buffaloes, he also sat out Oregon's 59-14 win over Tennessee earlier this season because of illness. Oregon does not disclose injuries, so after the game Helfrich described his absence as "circumstances."
Lyerla then complained to The Oregonian newspaper that he felt the description could be unfairly interpreted. He later apologized for airing his frustration publicly and said he never meant to be a distraction. Both he and Helfrich said they'd discussed the matter and moved on.