Boston Herald: Shawn Loiseau trying to defy odds again
For Immediate Release
July 16, 2012
Ex-Merrimack star has shot with Texans
Shawn Loiseau has already hurdled one barrier. Now, he's ready to show the football world what it's been ignoring for the past few years.
The inside linebacker became the first player from Merrimack College to sign an NFL contract when he signed with the Houston Texans in April. Loiseau, a Shrewsbury native, has already impressed his veteran teammates and coaches, to the point where the classic underdog has put himself in position to make the team out of camp.
Surreal? Nope, just a day in the life for a kid who didn't get a Division 1 offer or hear his name called during the draft despite talking with about one-third of the league's teams.
"To me, it's kind of cliche because it's just kind of my life story — just being overlooked all the time, kind of having my back against the wall and always having to prove myself," Loiseau said after a workout at Gridiron Training in Danvers. "But that's kind of my M.O. I don't like being looked at as the guy who is the top guy. I kind of like being the underdog that no one really knows about and then just kind of flashes and people are like, 'Wow, who's that?' That's been my story through high school and especially through college. Now, having the chance to go play for the Texans, hopefully I can do that again. I'm going to work as hard as I possibly can to put myself in that position."
It started at Shrewsbury High, where Loiseau's decorated career was briefly derailed during his junior year. He was jumped outside of his house by two seniors who wielded a crowbar and a pipe. Loiseau was hit in the head with the pipe, but collected himself in time to tackle his attacker, who hit his head on the ground and fell into a coma.
Despite it being in self-defense, Loiseau was charged with assault and battery with a deadly weapon (the ground) and was kicked out of school until he reached a plea agreement to serve probation and get reinstated at Shrewsbury. He was the Massachusetts Defensive Player of the Year as a senior and led his squad to a state title.
But the damage was done with the charges, as bigger collegiate programs turned their backs, leading Loiseau to Merrimack. Because it's a Div. 2 program, he only got a half-scholarship and still paid tuition. (Rare is the NFL player with student loans.)
Loiseau was dominant at Merrimack, accumulating 377 tackles, 26.5 tackles for loss, 11 sacks and four forced fumbles in his final three seasons. He also had a good showing at the East-West Shrine Game, but he was undrafted due to the concern that he'd struggle making a seismic leap from Div. 2 to the NFL.
The Texans were onto Loiseau from the beginning, and he chose them in favor of about 10 teams (he never personally spoke to the Patriots and is unaware if they were interested) because he felt he had a chance to make the 53-man roster. He broke from minicamp behind Brian Cushing on the depth chart.
Loiseau said he's received a lot of help from Cushing, with the playbook and the adjustment to the NFL. Even though teams haven't practiced with live contact yet, Loiseau said the speed of the game has been immeasurably faster.
Then, lining up against quarterback Matt Schaub, running back Arian Foster and wideout Andre Johnson, Loiseau noted it's easy to get exposed on any play, so he's worked that much harder to compete vs. some of the NFL's premier offensive weapons.
There's also the mental challenge that every undrafted player faces. Loiseau has gone from being a national Div. 2 star to being forced to contribute on special teams to make the roster. No matter, though, because he's got the work ethic and humility to do what it takes.
That's how an underdog succeeds, and Loiseau likes it that way.
"It's going to take a lot of hard work, and my back is against the wall," Loiseau said. "I'm going to have a lot to prove and a lot to show."