Monday night was a big day for Marquette men’s lacrosse, as two players joined the ranks of Golden Eagles selected in the National Lacrosse League Draft.
Long stick midfielder Liam Byrnes was selected with the 4th pick of the fifth round (#44 overall) by the Georgia Swarm, while midfielder Kyle Whitlow was taken with the 6th pick of the fifth round (#46 overall) by the Colorado Mammoths.
Byrnes finished his Marquette career as the program’s all-time leader in ground balls and caused turnovers, as well as a surprising 10th all time in assists. He has four of the nine best single season ground ball totals in MU history and four of the five best single season caused turnover totals in program history, including setting a new program record in 2016 with 33. He became Marquette’s first ever Major League Lacrosse draft pick back in January, and played 10 games for the Florida Launch in the 2016 season. Byrnes averaged 2.7 ground balls and just short of a caused turnover per game for Florida as a rookie.
Whitlow’s stellar Marquette career was cut short by an ACL and meniscus injury after just four games of the 2016 season. Even with that ending things early for him, Whitlow wraps up his collegiate career with the third most points, third most goals, and fourth most assists in program history. He’s also top 10 in career ground balls and caused turnovers, making him a multidimensional force on the field that has to make you wonder what MU’s ceiling in the NCAA tournament would have been if he had been healthy.
Byrnes and Whitlow are the third and fourth NLL draft picks in Marquette history respectively, but there is a teensy bit of a race between them to see who gets into the league first. Tyler Melnyk was drafted and played four games for the Edmonton Rush in 2015 before moving on to play three games for the Calgary Roughnecks in the 2016 season. Former Marquette captain Andrew Smistad was drafted in the same year as Melnyk, but never appeared in an NLL game, so either Byrnes or Whitlow might become the second Golden Eagle to play in the NLL.