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MLL signs top draft picks Michael Kraus, Colin Burke and Nick Mellen

It has been a spring of uncertainty for the sport of lacrosse, with season cancellations and postponements giving rise to extra year waivers for college lacrosse players, many of which were expected to join one of the two professional field leagues this summer. Despite uncertainty surrounding players that were drafted this spring, Major League Lacrosse signed three of the top four players taken in the 2020 MLL College Draft.

So far, Michael Kraus, selected second overall by the Connecticut Hammerheads, Colin Burke, drafted third overall by the New York Lizards, and Nick Mellen, drafted fourth overall by the Boston Cannons, have all signed contracts to play in the MLL when the league returns to play.

Michael Kraus was a part of the 2019 Virginia team that won the NCAA Div. I National Championship. (Photo courtesy of the University of Virginia athletics)

For two of the three of those picks, the geographical situation presented by the MLL was particularly enticing. Kraus, an all-american attackman and national champion with the Virginia Cavaliers, is a native of New Canaan, Connecticut. Kraus, who was also drafted third overall by the Waterdogs in Wednesday’s PLL College Draft, announced on Thursday that he would be returning to his home state of Connecticut to play for the newest MLL team, the Connecticut Hammerheads, on a two-year deal.

Likewise, Burke, who hails from Lloyd Harbor on Long Island, will play for the New York Lizards near his home town on a near weekly basis. Burke, who spent three seasons at Fairfield University before playing at the University of Utah as a graduate student, also became the first Ute to be drafted professionally.

Colin Burke was initially drafted by BJ O’Hara and the New York Lizards in 2019, after announcing he was transferring from Fairfield University, but opted to play his final year of college eligibility at Utah. (Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics)

While Boston Cannons’ top pick Nick Mellen won’t be playing in his home town, the Syracuse native and former Orange defenseman will join his fellow Syracuse alumni in Tyson Bomberry and Randy Staats, as well as Cal Dearth, brother of his Syracuse teammate Peter Dearth.

There is one big name that will not be suiting for an MLL team when they return to play: first overall pick TD Ierlan. Ierlan still has classes he needs to complete to earn his undergraduate degree, which allows him to return to Yale and play his extra season, despite the Ivy League refusing to allow its spring student athletes to play out their extra year of eligibility. As a result, the New York Lizards will retain his rights through next year should he choose to play in the MLL professionally after next spring. Ierlan is the only top four pick not to sign with his team so far.

Nick Mellen was John Desko’s top cover defenseman during his time at Syracuse. (Photo courtesy of Syracuse Athletics)

Despite no announcement for when the MLL plans to resume play, more and more signings continue to come in by the day, with other notable signings including the Chesapeake Bayhawks’ Will Weitzel (Yale), Philadelphia Barrage’s Mark Evanchick (Penn) and New York Lizards’ Andrew Pettit (Lehigh).

The league’s Chief Revenue Officer and Chesapeake Bayhawks president Mark Burdett told local media that the league expects to begin play without fans starting on July 4. In all, it’s a good sign for a league that relocated two of its teams this winter and those attempts seem to have done well to convince some of the top talent in the draft to play in the league.

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