From DIII To Professional: Lacrosse Vs Football


I’m always impressed by NCAA DII and DIII lacrosse players that make it to the MLL or NLL, but much to my surprise, pro lacrosse is not the only place that former DIII athletes are making waves.

I came up with a list of the Top 10 Best MLL Players Who Didn’t Play D1 Lacrosse, and looking back, it should come as no surprise that Salisbury had so many guys on the list. The Gulls are a vaunted DIII program, and it’s not a shocker to think top notch players could come out of the school… especially when ones considers how many kids play lacrosse, and how few D1 schools still offer the sport.

On the football side of things, it seems much less likely that a DIII player could break through in the NFL, but again, assumptions don’t always work out, so I thought the best place to start would be the Salisbury of DIII football, the University of Mount Union Purple Raiders.

Since 1993, Mount Union has won a record TEN National Championships in football. The program won 54 straight games at one point, and won 110 straight regular season games from 1994 to 2005. That is eleven years of undefeated regular season football. If there is a program in DIII that could be pumping out NFL players, Mount Union has to be it.

It turns out there actually are two former Mount Union players in the NFL right now, and I even watched one score a touchdown yesterday for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Cecil Shorts III is a WR for the Jags, played his college ball at MU and entered the NFL in 2011. The other former Mount Union player? None other than the Washington Redskins’ Pierre Garçon. That has to make Garçon like the Kyle Hartzell of the NFL.

And when you look at the DII ranks of college football, you see even more players make it to the big time. Danny Woodhead, out of DII Chadron State (Don Beebe also went to Chadron), is a pretty well known name by now, and was the NCAA’s all-time rushing leader for a year (before his record was broken by, of course, Mount Union’s Nate Kmic). Grand Valley State has put four players into the NFL, and Northwest Missouri State has placed six players in the league.

Now, is there a point to all this? Sure there is!

I always thought that the MLL and NLL DII and DIII success stories were really unique. I just figured that since lacrosse was a smaller sport, it must be easier to make it in the pros if you came from a smaller school… but you can see just how wrong I was.

After doing a little more research, it seems like these kind of success stories are all around us. While I don’t feel like lacrosse is as unique as I used to (at least in this sense), any time someone tries to tell me DIII or MCLA players in the MLL makes the league a farce, I can point to the NFL, and laugh in their face. So there’s that.

Now all I can think about is Mount Union adding lacrosse. Make it happen Purple Raider nation.

Do you know of more non-D1 NFL players? What about the NBA? If you’ve got a gem, lay it down on us in the comments!