Every year as the NFL Draft comes up, there are small school players that have big time stories and Merrimack College linebacker Shawn Loiseau is no different.
Growing up in small-town Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, Shawn’s goal since he was seven years old has been to be a linebacker in the NFL. His biggest influence has been his dad who Loiseau says “has always pushed me to be the best I can possibly be. He has never missed one football game I have ever played in.”
Loiseau prides himself in what he does and describes himself in two words. “Relentless and intense; I never want to be outworked,” Loiseau said. “Every time I’m on the football field, I may not be the fastest guy, the strongest guy, or even the smartest guy, but I will never let anyone outwork me.”
That intensity that he shows at all times, that’s been a trait he’s held since he was young and it stems from deep within him. “Ever since I was a little boy, I have always been told that I can’t do things; that I wasn’t strong enough, fast enough or good enough. I use everything that everyone has ever told me I couldn’t do and I use it as motivation. I harness my anger inside that never goes away,” said Loiseau.
Loiseau continued, “My father, ever since I was a little boy, would tell me ‘you only get back what you put into something.’ To me, that meant one thing: hard work.” That is something that has stuck in Loiseau through every level of his playing career. However, despite not being in the national spotlight in high school or attending a fully-recognized Division 1 school for college, Shawn is determined to show everyone what he can do.
The hardest part for Shawn came during his junior year in high school during which he was involved in an altercation that had him looking at a jail sentence for assault with a deadly weapon. Loiseau, however, has clarified the situation and hopes that it ends there.
“During my junior year in high school, I was coming home from the gym and when I got to my house and got out of my car, I noticed a car with two kids in it had pulled into my neighbor’s house. The two kids were seniors at my high school, but were involved in a gang,” said Loiseau. “They began threatening me and challenging me to a fight. Words were exchanged and they both grabbed weapons; one a crow bar and the other one a pipe. They began walking over to my house.”
Loiseau continued to say, “My father, who had heard the commotion, came outside and saw what was happening. He got in between us and told the kids to leave and defuse the situation. One of the kids raised his hand to my dad, threatening to hit him and when he did, I jumped in front of my dad and pushed the kid.”
That is when things escalated.
“When I pushed the kid, one of them hit me in the forehead with a pipe and split my head wide open,” said Loiseau. A report later showed that Loiseau needed about 28 stitches to close the cut. Loiseau went on to say, “I went down to one knee and he tried kicking me in the face. When he did this, I grabbed his leg and tackled him to the pavement. During that, he smashed the back of his head on the ground and ended up going into a coma.”
Loiseau was charged with assault and battery with a deadly weapon, the ground being the weapon. At one point, they even told Loiseau that they did not know if the kid would wake up, which would have resulted in possible murder charges. For Shawn, this didn’t make sense as this was the only fight he had ever been in and he was just defending himself.
Shawn ended up pleading to a misdemeanor of assault and battery in order to get back into his high school for his senior year and the charges were later dismissed and the only results saw Shawn serving two years of probation and 100 hours of community service.
Despite the stress and worry of the situation, it did not deter Shawn.
During his senior year of high school, Loiseau helped lead his team to a state championship with a 13-0 record. He was named the Massachusetts Player of the Year while playing linebacker and running back and recorded 136 tackles.
While attending a Boston College Football Camp, Loiseau went up to Boston College linebackers coach Bill McGovern and explained how bad he wanted to play at Boston College. McGovern looked at Shawn and laughed, saying “Yeah, you and everyone else, son.”
That was all the motivation that Loiseau needed when John Perry came calling from Merrimack College. “He told me three things that ultimately made me decide to go to Merrimack. He said I would play early, win a championship and meet a lot of great people there,” Loiseau said. “My freshman year, I came in and had a goal sheet of short term goals and long term goals. For the short term, I wanted to be the fastest, smartest and strongest. For the long term, I wrote to be an All-American, be the best linebacker in the country and play in the NFL.”
Of the goals he had, he feels he completed all but one. The one that goes through this off-season starting with next week’s NFL Scouting Combine.
“I’m going to perform every drill asked (at the Combine)! As far as my performance goes, I have one thing to say. Everyone who has ever doubted me, called me too slow, not strong enough or not good enough to compete at the highest level, I have something in store for them.”
Training at Gridiron Training in Danvers, Massachusetts with Pat Downey, Loiseau says he’s “in the best shape of my life.” After a strong performance at the East-West Shrine Game, we are fully inclined to believe him. If that’s not enough to go off of, scouts will be sure to check out his college stat sheet that shows three seasons of 120 tackles or more in just ten games each season.
So what can NFL fans expect from the 6’1”, 245 lbs. linebacker from small-school Merrimack College?
“Expect to see a guy that brings a lot of intensity and a motor that never stops! I have had a rough road getting to where I am and I believe that everything happens for a reason. People will see who I am and why it doesn’t matter where you come from; it only matters where you want to go and how hard you are willing to work to get there.”
With the NFL Combine just a week away, you’ll be hearing a lot about Shawn Loiseau and from what he’s told me, everything will be a positive on his performance and character.
By: Brandon Williams
Member of the Football Writers Association of America