The group has another name to add to it as Adam Jones ‘11 has taken the same path to the NLL via Canisius. Jones and fellow 2011 graduate Dan Coates became the fifth and sixth Griffs to be selected in the first round of the NLL Draft when Jones was taken third overall by the Colorado Mammoth. Canisius College was the only school in the country to feature two first-round picks in the 2011 NLL Draft.
One of the program's most decorated players, Jones has continued his successful career in the NLL, while sustaining the strong Canisius tradition in the league. It took just one year for Jones to make his mark by earning NLL Rookie of the Year honors. Overall, he is one of 10 former Griffs to play in the league.
"There are a lot of Canisius graduates playing in the NLL right now and it is definitely something that the school should be proud of," Jones said. "Coach (Randy) Mearns has been a great influence on me and I'm sure he had just as good of an influence on his other former players in the league. Our success in the league can definitely be contributed to the Canisius lacrosse program."
Jones followed in the footsteps of the past Canisius standouts in the NLL, highlighted by current Griff head coach and a member of the school's first recruiting class, Randy Mearns.
"Coach Mearns has been a vault of knowledge," Jones said. "He has all the knowledge you need about playing professional lacrosse. When I first decided to go to Canisius, that was a big reason why. With his resume, I knew that it was the right place for me to go and prepare for the next level."
After graduating from Canisius, Mearns spent nine seasons in the NLL with Buffalo and Rochester from 1993 to 2002, helping the Bandits to the 1993 title and the Knighthawks to the 1997 crown. His experiences at the NLL opened the door for future Griffs to compete at the sport's highest level and the program's head coach for the past 14 seasons has been able to pass along his experiences in the league for additional graduates to have successful careers.
"I owe a lot to Coach Mearns for my success and he has been able to give me great advice," Jones said. "He told me to keep level-headed and to just trust in your skill. If you have confidence in yourself and you work hard, you should be successful. Coach Mearns has also helped me improve on the field, teaching me things like off-ball movement. He is doing a great job with the program of recruiting and getting players ready for the next level."
In his rookie campaign, Jones helped the Mammoth to an 11-5 record. He totaled 84 points, 33 goals and 51 assists in 18 games en route to NLL Rookie of the Year accolades and all-rookie team accolades.
The success of Jones comes as no surprise to those who have followed the Griffs. The program's first All-American, Jones led the Griffs to their first MAAC title in 2008 as Canisius advanced to its first NCAA Tournament. He earned first-team all-conference honors on three occasions, accumulating 129 points, 98 goals and 31 assists.
One of the shining moments for Jones in his rookie campaign was earning a starting position in the NLL All-Star Game, held in Buffalo's First Niagara Center in February. Jones was able to share his experience in front of a number of familiar faces, including a lot of former teammates that he considers his second family.
"Buffalo is a place where I went to school for four years and this place is very close to my heart," Jones said. "I'm very greatful to be selected as an all-star but it is also great to be back in Buffalo. I had a lot of friends here from the lacrosse team watching me with Coach Mearns up in the booth interviewing me. It was definitely a homecoming game for me that made it that much more special.
"Canisius College is like a family to me. I still talk to every teammate and want to still hang out with them. Canisius is just something when I look back on it, I'm really glad that I went there. It is a great program and Coach Mearns is a great coach. Most important is the family atmosphere. Everyone just meshes well together and enjoy being around each other."
With the rich tradition of Griffs in the NLL, the transition to the league is made easier when you can find another Canisius graduate on the team. One teammate that has made the shift easier for Jones is Coates, who was also a 2011 graduate and a first-round selection of the Colorado Mammoth this past season.
"Dan is one of my good friends and we've been playing together for four years," Jones said. "It's a little different playing indoors with him now but it's definitely good to have someone you feel close to. He's a great leader and a great defensemen so I love having him on my team. I'm very grateful that he is in Colorado with me."
With the tradition of the Canisius and the program's continued success, the prospect of playing with even more graduates seems likely in the future.