With the third pick of the third round of the 2015 Major League Lacrosse draft, the Florida Launch made long stick midfielder Liam Byrnes the first Marquette lacrosse player ever selected in the MLL Draft.
Before the draft would come to a conclusion, it had become a historic day for Marquette lacrosse, as midfielder Jacob Richard was selected by the 2015 MLL champion New York Lizards in the fourth round and defender BJ Grill was taken by the Denver Outlaws in the fifth round.
Byrnes is a 6'3" long pole player, and he is Marquette's all time leader in ground balls. He led the team in that category with 52 in 2015 and also topped the team in caused turnovers with 26. He also scored four goals and notched two assists, which is an unreal amount of scoring output for a defense oriented midfielder and definitely a crazy amount for a long stick midfielder. It's no surprise that he was a unanimous choice for the all-Big East First Team a year ago, and that kind of attention earned Byrnes a nod on Inside Lacrosse's preseason All-American Third Team this season.
Richard, like Byrnes and Grill, has played in every single game in Marquette lacrosse history. He's second in ground balls only to Byrnes and actually tied Byrnes for the team lead last season. Coming into the draft, it seemed like a slight bit of a long shot that Richard would actually be drafted, due to his defensive focus, but it's obvious that New York values that kind of midfielder.
Grill has been an all-Big East First Team defender from the moment that Marquette joined the league. He was a unanimous selection in 2015 and joins Byrnes on the Inside Lacrosse preseason All-American Third Team. Standing just 5'5", Grill is a ferocious one-on-one defender, showing time and time again that he can lock down the best scorer on the other team. He held Kieran McArdle, the 2014 MLL Offensive Rookie of the Year, without a goal in the season before McArdle left St. John's to join the Florida Launch. In three meetings against Notre Dame, Grill has held Matt Kavanagh, the #5 overall pick in this year's MLL Draft, to just two goals, both of which came in the first meeting. Oddly enough, Kavanagh and Grill will be teammates in the future in Denver.
This isn't the first time that Marquette has had players selected to play professional lacrosse. Tyler Melnyk and Andrew Smistad were selected in the NLL Draft in 2014.
Byrnes, Richard, and Grill will play their final season for Marquette this spring, with the season kicking off at Valley Fields on February 20th with a game against Bellarmine.