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Pierce may have surgery in December

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Arkansas fullback Mark Pierce "has made a commitment that he wants to go play professional football," Razorback coach Houston Nutt said Sunday, and won't be on the team for a bowl game.

"In order for him to do that, it is best -- I know in his mind
and in his mother's mind -- that he just concentrates on that,"
Nutt said at his regular Sunday news conference.

Nutt said he was aware of Pierce's decision to enter the NFL
draft as a junior before Friday's game with LSU, but "I just told
him, for focus, it was best for his teammates and his team to
wait."

"He is locked in. He is set. There is no convincing him the
other way," Nutt said.

Pierce said Saturday he has an appointment on Monday at
Fayetteville for an imaging scan on an injured shoulder. If surgery
is needed, getting it done in December would allow Pierce to work
out for professional scouts in February and March.

The past year has been a troubled one for Pierce. His father
died suddenly last year following Arkansas' victory over LSU, and
he took a leave of absence from the team in July, for unspecified
personal reasons.

His status with the team this fall was uncertain until he showed
up for drills in mid-August.

Then, misdemeanor charges were lodged against him, stemming from
two separate incidents on Aug. 31. Police checking a bar for
under-age drinkers said Pierce became belligerent with them as they
questioned a woman nearby. That resulted in a disorderly conduct
charge.

A third-degree battery charge was filed against Pierce after a
man told police he had been struck in an altercation outside a
liquor store, earlier the night of Aug. 31.

Nutt was asked Sunday if Pierce's troubles had made him
less than welcome among his teammates.

"I don't want to get into that," the coach answered. "There
was a little bit of that, but that is inside. I hope he can learn
from a lot of mistakes that have happened."