Stealth's Digby named NLL rookie of the month
It should be no surprise that Tyler Digby brings a little bit of football to the lacrosse floor.
“He is a massive human being,” said Vancouver Stealth general manager Doug Locker.
“I think when he is setting picks, he is obviously a force to be reckoned with because he is such a big guy.
“His size and strength were certainly appealing for us.”
Vancouver selected Digby in the third round (20th overall) of the National Lacrosse League draft back in September.
Digby is a six-foot-three, 245-pound right-handed forward for the Stealth. And his pro career is off to a great start as he was named the NLL rookie of the month on Feb. 6 after posting 11 goals and 22 points in seven games. He leads all rookies and is also in the top 25 overall for league scoring.
And Locker feels the reason he lasted as long in the draft as he did was the fact lacrosse teams may have been scared off by Digby’s football aspirations.
The New Westminster native spent the past four and a half years at Robert Morris University just outside of Pittsburgh. Digby, who turns 23 next month, starred on both the Colonials’ field lacrosse and football teams, earning all-conference honours in both sports his senior season.
Digby was also taken in the fourth round (36th overall) of the Canadian Football League draft by the expansion Ottawa Redblacks.
“I always dreamed of playing lacrosse professionally, but as far as football, it didn’t set in until later, when I was in Grade 10 or 11,” he said.
“Once I got a couple of years into college, that is when it really started to settle in for me that I could play football professionally too.”
“But lacrosse was always the dream.”
“I grew up watching my dad (Darrel) play,” he said.
“So I was always around the rink with a stick in my hand.”
His dad played a pair of seasons of senior A with the New Westminster Salmonbellies and then senior B.
But his foray into football didn’t begin until he started high school at New Westminster Secondary.
“Being a bigger kid, I started playing and it just took off from there,” he explained.
Playing NCAA Division 1 football in the U.S. — where football is like a religion — was quite the experience.
“It takes a lot of discipline to play there but for the most part, it is football,” he said.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I went there but after being there, there are definitely a lot of players (in Canada) that could go play there.”
On the football field his first three years, Digby had three receptions and one touchdown in 24 games. But his senior season this past fall saw him play a bigger role in the offence with four touchdowns on 17 receptions in nine games played.
photo courtesy of Robert Morris University Athletic Department
Tyler Digby played all four seasons as a tight end for the Robert Morris University Colonials football team.
His play earned him all-Northeast Conference honours, something he also accomplished in field lacrosse.
He finished his four seasons with the Colonials — the final two as a starter for the majority of his time — with 40 goals and 71 points in 54 games.
“I think playing different sports makes you more of a well-rounded athlete,” Digby said, adding that football got him into the weight room at a younger age and taught him the benefits of weight training.
“And there is a lot of crossover. Being a tight end, you have to have decent hand-eye coordination, that is a big part of lacrosse.
“Footwork as well — running patterns or blocking — all starts with footwork and the same goes for lacrosse, playing defence and offence.”
“In terms of the ability to set big screens and picks, that comes from his blocking experience in football,” said Stealth head coach Chris Hall.
“He knows how to move bodies around; he is a big body down there and is tough to move out of spots.”
Digby has been instrumental in creating space for Stealth leading scorer Rhys Duch, who sits second in the NLL with 18 goals in seven games.
“Anytime you can get a guy like Duchy a little bit more open, maybe one or two more looks a game, that is something that should work to our advantage,” Locker said.
That is not to say that Digby is all brawn out on the floor.
“He has really great hands around the net, and I think he is showing that,” Locker said.
“He catches everything in tight and has a penchant for scoring and is only going to get better as he gets more comfortable.”
Hall said the coaching staff had to reinforce to Digby prior to the weekend to shoot more as that had tailed off in the past few games.
“He just has to have the confidence to shoot the ball,” Hall said. “We have confidence in him.
“He is a rookie in this league and it takes a little while for guys to find there way but we are more than pleased with what he has done so far.”
And as for his football aspirations, Digby hasn’t ruled it out, though it would cause him to miss returning to the WLA, where he played for the Burnaby Lakers last year.