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Insights from a True MLL Veteran for Draftees

March 17, 2016
Insights from a True MLL Veteran for This Year’s Draftees

Caitlain Kelley

Hey potential MLL Draftees, listen up. It’s important not to let whatever number you’re drafted at get to you. Buggs Combs wasn’t even drafted; he was chosen as a free agent. Now, before you say What can this 32-year old guy tell me about playing lacrosse?, consider this—in his first season, he played in seven games, not bad for someone who wasn’t even selected in the draft. Since then, he has accumulated 138 goals and 25 assists.

He has been around the league for a while and knows all the ins and outs. He wants to share his insights with you to help you find success in the MLL, and hopefully you’ll have the chance to play Major League Lacrosse. Maybe if you’re lucky enough, you’ll even get a cool nickname like Buggs.

What advice would you have for some of the younger guys trying to break into the league?

I think patience is the key. My draft went a little bit different than a lot of the guys’ draft is going to go this year. I played at the University of Maryland in 2001 and I believe it was really the first draft because they kind of placed people in different cities before that. So I think for me the draft experience wasn’t a good one. I watched 50 guys get drafted ahead of me, didn’t get drafted and was picked up as a free agent. I think the key to being successful in the MLL is what kind of work ethic you have. Because in college you have the coach there every day, making you go to practice for two hours, making you lift for an hour two or three times a week, and in the MLL its all on your own. It really takes a self-motivated individual to be successful. I think what you see out of the guys who have been in this league for seven or eight years, is they’re all guys who are very successful on their own because they work very hard when nobody is looking.

Did you follow the NCAA at all this year?

Oh yeah I followed it. I’m a big fan of college lacrosse. College lacrosse is awesome to watch. I spent most of my weekend, except for Sunday, down at the [NCAA Championships], watched both games on Saturday and the championship on Monday.

So, do you have any thoughts on any of the guys who are going to be involved in the draft this year?

Yeah. I think if you look at it, there are a lot of very good players. I think that Ned Crotty is a very good, skilled offensive player who can play midfield or attack. Then you look at a local guy like Michael Kimmel who is from this area and whose team didn’t necessarily have a successful season. But, I think Michael Kimmel is going to be very successful in the MLL because he is the type of midfielder who can get up and down the field, play defense and play the wings, and he can play offense. I think in a 19-man lineup a guy who can do all those different things is huge to have. Also, him being a Baltimore guy, out of Loyola High School, and local to our program, that’s who I’m kind of pulling for and hoping we get, but we have the second pick so I think if we either get him or Crotty… I think both those guys would help our team. We have a lot of picks so there are some other guys out there who can help us in different places.

Has Spencer Ford let any secrets slip about his plans?

Honestly, I think the organization is pretty happy with what we have right now and they’re really just looking to load for the future. Personally, I think it’s very difficult once you get past the first five or eight players; it’s difficult for those guys to have an impact the first year because they’re coming in half way through the season, in game five, and if you’re having a successful season you’re not going to change a whole lot. Everybody who plays in the MLL was an All-American or the best player on their team in college.

Do you think it’s kind of a tough transition to go from college to the MLL?

For some guys it is. I think the easiest transition is their first year because they’ve been practicing for four or five months so they’re in really good shape and they haven’t had to do any of it on their own. They’re ready to go just from the base they got from their college teams. I think the first year is the easiest year; I think the second year is the hardest, where the guys have to motivate themselves. I think that Michael Kimmel is definitely a guy who can come in and make an impact on our team.

What do you like to do in the off season to keep yourself up?

I spend a lot of time working out, getting in shape and in the gym shooting. As you get older, it’s gotten a lot harder. I think as I’ve gotten over 30, it’s gotten a lot harder to stay in shape and you have to put a lot more time in it than you had to before. That’s definitely an aspect you have to concentrate on. The type of player I am—I’m a goal scorer first but after that I’m a riding attackman and that’s how I kind of got my start in the league, it was with Gary [Gait], Mark Millon John Blatchley and Tom Marechek. Those guys were a little bit older so I would come in, ride for them and come off the field right away. I think any way you can get yourself on the field, and if you’re in the best shape possible, you’re going to make a difference when you’re on the field.


To listen to Buggs Combs full interview, click here: