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January 2, 2011MORE ARMY BOWL Ten things to watch | Complete coverage SAN ANTONIO - Hillsboro (Ore.) four-star athlete Colt Lyerla will make his college decision Saturday live on NBC, and although the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Army All-American isn't intimidated by much, his pending announcement is bigger and scarier than the opposition he will face at the Alamo Dome in San Antonio.
"At least these interviews aren't live ... yet," joked Lyerla while shuttling from interview to interview during the U.S. Army All-American registration on Sunday.
"I'll be graduating in March, so I want to set it up to where I can get down to the school I choose as early as possible," said Lyerla. "I want to get down there and start training, start spring ball, start school.
"At Oregon, I would get an early start, which is a benefit. But USC and Cal have the benefit of giving me a little bit of a break from school. I could hang out and see my family instead of going straight from high school to college."
Lyerla officially visited USC and UCLA, but two of his final three choices did not receive official visits.
"I've been to Oregon and Cal unofficially, but only USC officially," said Lyerla. "It was really important to get [to USC] because I needed to see what went on behind the scenes.
"USC has a hard-working football team and it was great to go down there and experience what the Trojans are really about."
Where the stars outshine the Hillsboro skyline at night, the expansive city landscape of Los Angeles was a pleasant change of pace for Lyerla on his official visit to USC.
"It wasn't really culture shock," said Lyerla. "It's something that actually excites me. I don't mind the big city or anything. I can definitely see myself down there. I've been to L.A. before. I've been there for different types of football camps and I have family in San Diego."
Lyerla has also been to Eugene on several occasions. While he has yet to officially visit Oregon, he is very familiar with the Ducks' past success and future potential.
"I want to play for a good team, and a team that will continue to win," said Lyerla. "Oregon is definitely headed in the right direction and they are doing things the right way - obviously.
"They're in the national championship game, so you have to respect that. I really like their coaches too. They do it the right way."
Oregon is recruiting Lyerla as an athlete on offense, capable of playing tight end or receiver. USC is recruiting Lyerla specifically for linebacker. Cal also covets Lyerla as a defensive player.
"Mentally, I feel like I'm an offensive player," said Lyerla. "I feel like I can be a playmaker, but my body, size and speed are a perfect fit for defense too. I'm still trying to decide where I want to play. A lot depends on where I can get on the field first."
On his official visit to USC on Nov. 5, the Trojans coaching staff drew some flattering comparisons between Lyerla and former Trojan greats Clay Matthews Jr. and Brian Cushing.
"They showed me video clips of Cushing and Matthews," said Lyerla. "The coaches showed me the similarities, and that was interesting. I have a goal to play in the NFL, just like all of the kids here [in San Antonio]. If USC is the best way to get there, that might be the way to go."
Lyerla is slated to play linebacker this week in San Antonio, but is leaving the door open to playing offense if the opportunity presents itself.
"I think they have me at linebacker, but after a week of practice they could switch it up," said Lylera.
When it comes to defensive schemes, Lyerla has done his homework. Oregon and USC run a 4-3 base defensive front, while Cal runs a 3-4 defense.
"There are advantages to both," said Lyerla. "The 4-3 is a pro-style defense, and that obviously translates well at the next level. In the 3-4, I'll play that monster outside linebacker position, which will allow me to showcase my athleticism off the edge more. Plus, different defenses mean different coverages, so it is important."