Former Patriot Leaguers Making an Impact in Professional Leagues

PATRIOTLEAGUEDOTORG Loyola's Joe Fletcher is an MLL rookie with the New York Lizards.
Loyola's Joe Fletcher is an MLL rookie with the New York Lizards.

July 25, 2014

CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - While current Patriot League student-athletes enjoy their summer vacations, a handful of alumni are showing that playing in the League can lead to success at the highest levels of their sports.

Former Patriot Leaguers are competing at the highest level in five different sports, with some in the middle of the year and others on the cusp of beginning a new season. Below is a look at the Patriot League alumni who are enjoying success at the apex of their sport.

PGA Tour: Billy Hurley, a 2004 Naval Academy graduate and former Patriot League Player of the Year, has emerged as a rising star on the PGA Tour. Hurley is ranked 71st in the Fed Ex Cup standings, has a scoring average of 70.6 and made the cut at both the U.S. Open and The Open Championship. He has played in 23 events with four top-10 finishes and 16 cuts made. Hurley's best finish was a tie for fourth at the Greenbrier Classic ending on July 6, and he also came in fifth at the Honda Classic on March 2.

NBA: Three former Patriot Leaguers played in the recently concluded NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. 2013 graduates C.J. McCollum (Lehigh/Portland Trail Blazers) and Mike Muscala (Bucknell/Atlanta Hawks) were joined by 2014 Patriot League Player of the Year Cameron Ayers (Bucknell/New Orleans Pelicans), and all played well in their short stints. McCollum was fourth in the Las Vegas Summer League in scoring at 20.2 points per game, while Muscala was second on his team with 13.8 points per game and led the Hawks with 7.8 rebounds per contest. Ayers averaged 5.3 points in four games with New Orleans. McCollum and Muscala each debuted as rookies in the NBA last season, with the former putting up 5.3 points per contest in 38 games with Portland and the latter averaging 3.8 points in 20 games with Atlanta. Both players went on to appear in the NBA playoffs for their teams.

NFL: Training camps are opening around the league as the 2014 season approaches, and four veteran Patriot Leaguers are back in the fold once again. The most-tenured of the group is linebacker/special teamer Blake Costanzo (Lafayette), who is entering his eighth season and returns to the San Francisco 49ers after playing the past two years with the Chicago Bears. Costanzo has 72 tackles, five forced fumble and five fumble recoveries in a 91-game career that has included stops with the Buffalo Bills (2007-08) and Cleveland Browns (2009-10) as well as San Francisco (2011) and Chicago (2012-13). A pair of players are entering their fourth NFL season in offensive guard Will Rackley (Lehigh) and defensive back/special teamer Isa Abdul-Quddus (Fordham). Rackley is in his first season with the Baltimore Ravens after playing the previous three with the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he played in 26 games and started 25 in 2011 and 2013 while sitting out the 2012 season with an injury. Abdul-Quddus has played his entire career with the New Orleans Saints after making the team as an undrafted free agent in 2011. He has played in 42 games with 74 tackles and two interceptions in three years at defensive back and on special teams. Wide receiver Ryan Spadola (Lehigh) is back with the Miami Dolphins after playing four games as a rookie last year, three of which were with the New York Jets before being signed by Miami.

Major League Lacrosse: The Patriot League has a strong presence in the MLL with 14 active players, including four recent graduates of Loyola University Maryland. Joe Fletcher (New York Lizards), Justin Ward (Charlotte Hounds), Pat Laconi (Charlotte Hounds) and Jack Runkel (Chesapeake Bayhawks) are all in the MLL after playing for the 2014 Greyhound team which spent the majority of the season at No. 1 in the nation. Peter Baum (Colgate/Ohio Machine) leads the MLL with 29 goals and is seventh with 37 points, while Ward stands in the top 20 with 26 points and top 10 with 14 assists. Chris Eck (Colgate/Boston Cannons) leads the MLL with 78 ground balls and is tied for first with 154 face-off wins. Eck and Garrett Thul (Army/Florida Launch) played on the United States team which took silver at the 2014 FIL World Championships completed last week.

Major League Baseball: Matt Daley, a 2004 Bucknell graduate, has been up and down as a relief pitcher for the New York Yankees this season. He was recently sent down to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre, but has made 13 appearances with the Yankees this season with a 0-0 record and 4.85 ERA in 12 innings. Daley's claim to fame was relieving Mariano Rivera's final MLB appearance on Sept. 26 last season. Daley has appeared for the Yankees the past two years after spending parts of three seasons with the Colorado Rockies from 2009-11. In his MLB career Daley has pitched 99.1 innings with a 2-2 record, 4.44 ERA and 97 strikeouts. A handful of former Patriot Leaguers are also competing in the minor leagues, with designated hitter Matt McBride (Lehigh) at Triple-A Colorado Springs.