Tyson Coleman: friends w/Lyerla since HS
EUGENE – Oregon Ducks tight ends coach Tom Osborne had a simple answer when asked if the team would miss Colt Lyerla, who left the team Sunday.
“Athletically, yes. Performance? No.”
Basically speaking, Lyerla is a uniquely gifted athlete who because of circumstances hadn’t delivered on the field any better than his backups, who just happen to be loaded with talent.
So while losing Lyerla doesn’t help Oregon’s cause in trying to win a national title, it certainly doesn’t hurt it all that much, either.
So much so that Osborne didn’t appear to be concerned at all with the events of the past couple of days.
“I’m coaching the three guys that are here now,” he said. “It’s like when a guy gets hurt for the season. I’ve got three guys I’m trying to get ready right now.”
Those three guys are freshman Johnny Mundt, sophomore Pharaoh Brown and redshirt freshman Evan Baylis (6-foot-6, 245-pounds).
Mundt (6-4, 232) has already made his presence felt with seven receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Both scores came when he filled in for an ill Lyerla against Tennessee.
While Mundt has ignited fan interest it’s Brown (6-6, 241) that could be the next true impact player at the position.
Brown was projected to be Lyerla’s backup but injuries during fall camp slowed him down. Saturday at Colorado he caught his first pass of the season for 24 yards.
Osborne said a healthy Brown might have become “1A” on the depth chart heading into camp after he had such a great fall camp.
“He would have played a lot if healthy,” Osborne said.
Linebacker Tyson Coleman said he's been impressed by Brown.
"He has the size, the athleticism, he's physical, he's got a little mean streak in him," Coleman said. "I think he'll be a great player soon enough. If it weren't for his foot injury I think he would have already been in the mix a little more.
Baylis’ playing time has increased lately, as well.
“He’s improved tremendously in the last few weeks,” Osborne said of Baylis.
Sophomore Koa Ka'ai is also in the mix.
For all four the landscape at the top of the position has changed, creating opportunities for all.
“It’s definitely changed the intensity level for those guys,” Osborne said.