Was Atlas’ Tyler Carpenter the lucky find in the 2024 PLL Draft?

Tyler Carpenter, a native of Durham, NC, was the ball boy for Mike Pressler when he was head coach at Duke. Today, Carpenter works more as a ground ball boy for the coach and general manager of the New York Atlas.

The rookie was selected in the fourth and final round of the 2024 PLL Draft by Duke, where he led all non-faceoff specialists with 66 ground balls in his final season.

Four weeks after his first professional appearance, that hasn’t changed. Carpenter leads all non-face-off specialists in ground balls, and it’s not even close. Carpenter has taken 24. Maryland Whipsnakes goalie Brendan Krebs is second among non-face-off specialists with 16. The next non-specialist or non-goalie behind Carpenter is Whipsnakes long-stick midfielder Colin Squires with 13.

Carpenter has caught more ground balls than Boston Cannons faceoff man Zac Tucci (21) and just one less than Denver Outlaws’ Luke Wierman, despite having more ground ball opportunities at the line. The rookie with the second-most ground balls behind Carpenter is teammate Connor Shellenberger, who has caught half of Carpenter’s total with 12.

And yet Carpenter remained on the draft list for 26 picks. This raises the question: was he the lucky find of the draft?

Considering his five caused turnovers and four points (2 goals, 1 touchdown) as well as his total number of ground balls, it could well be him.

Carpenter is an instant difference-maker on the wing and on the floor, and his signing to the team didn’t cost Pressler a huge amount of money, unlike when New York traded Chris Gray to the California Redwoods in exchange for the No. 5 pick to acquire goalie Liam Entenmann.

Jake Piseno and Stephen Zupicich were the two LSMs selected ahead of Carpenter, who was selected last at his position. Piseno has 10 ground balls, one caused turnover and one point in three games for the Outlaws this season. Zupicich has two ground balls, zero caused turnovers and one assist in three games for the Whipsnakes.

Numbers aside, no LSM rookie’s presence on the field is more evident than Carpenter’s. The Atlas – who lead the league with 191 ground balls – have thrived in short-term shooting, starting with Trevor Baptiste and the wing. Time and time again, Carpenter emerges with the ball after a battle on the ground and is able to pass it quickly, allowing the Atlas to go straight on offense.

But if you fail to lift him up, he can still score a goal.

Carpenter’s name wasn’t mentioned in May alongside top picks Brennan O’Neill, Shellenberger and Pat Kavanagh. Less than two months later, he may no longer be among the top candidates for Rookie of the Year, but he’s made sure it’s a name to know.