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Quick Kicks: Patriots fan Loiseau among top ILBs

Four season ago, he led his high school team to a 13-0 record and a state championship. For that effort, he was named the Massachusetts high school defensive player of the year, but no major college football programs offered him a chance to play.


INDIANAPOLIS - He has succeeded at every level, yet his doubters persist.

Four season ago, he led his high school team to a 13-0 record and a state championship. For that effort, he was named the Massachusetts high school defensive player of the year, but no major college football programs offered him a chance to play.

So, Shrewsbury's Shawn Loiseau stayed close to home, at Division II Merrimack College, to play inside linebacker. When he arrived on campus, his coach, John Perry, asked him to write down his football goals.

He listed the ones he'd had since he was 7 years old: become an All-American, the best linebacker in the country, and play in the NFL.

Perry scanned the sheet of paper and smiled.

"Shawn, why don't you write something more realistic, like starting or something like that, first," Perry advised his eager young recruit, as Loiseau recalled it.

"Coach, those are going to be my goals. I'm going to achieve them," the linebacker confidently responded.

He recounted that tale during his media interview at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis this weekend - someplace to which few Division II players have ever been invited.

Throughout his college career, the fact that he was overlooked by bigger schools ate at him. Particularly when his fellow Massachusetts offensive player of the year that season, Dartmouth's Jordan Todman, was enjoying a high-profile life at UConn (Todman was drafted by San Diego after coming out early last year, was eventually cut, and is now on the Vikings roster).

"I never stopped thinking about it; it just made me want to work harder," the gregarious young man told reporters at the Combine. "I have a huge chip on my shoulder; I'm always competing against the guys I can't see, just being overlooked and being told that I can't do things and people laughing at me - when I tell people I want to play in the NFL I've always had people laugh at me, like, 'yeah, Shawn, that's a good joke.' But to me it's been something that's realistic, just a lot of hard work that I've been putting in."

Loiseau didn't play one down as a freshman. He was stuck on the depth chart behind a senior - a team captain, no less. When his chance to play came as a sophomore, he started the very first game, and, as he put it, "never turned back." Loiseau went on to start all 30 of his next games, leading the nation in tackles three consecutive years.

Goal number one? Check.

He was a two-time Division II All-American, breaking numerous Merrimack records along the way.

Meanwhile, the critics continued to snicker and sneer. Loiseau just drowned out the noise by working harder and harder.

"Even my friends now," Loiseau revealed, "they're like, 'Shawn do you think you're going to go and play in the NFL?' and I'm here at the Indianapolis combine and people still don't think it because coming from Merrimack College. I'm the first guy to ever really get a chance to play in the NFL and actually get looked at and exposure."

Goal number two? Check (sort of).

By being invited to play in the East-West Shrine Game, the oldest of the college football all-star games, Loiseau was considered one of the best linebackers in the nation. At a shade under 6-1 and a biscuit below 245 pounds, he projects as an inside linebacker in the NFL. Some draft experts even list him as one of the ten best at that position in this year's draft class.

Even so, most of Loiseau's family never watched him play. The only person, beside Loiseau himself, who always believed in him was his father, Paul.

"Oh yeah," Loiseau confirmed, "my father's been my biggest supporter, ever since I've been little. Everything that's happened in my life, he's always backed me 100 percent and pushed me to be the best I can be and molded me into the man I am today."

A man on the threshold of the NFL.

Goal number three? Not quite a check yet, but the pencil point is poised and ready on Loiseau's sheet of paper.

The only way this Hollywood story could be more complete would be if Loiseau ends up with the team he rooted for his whole life.

"Big Patriots fan," he admitted, unable to hide a huge grin. "I love the Patriots. I grew up watching the Patriots, my family are all Patriots fans … That would be unreal. That would be awesome."

And if that happens, the only one laughing … will be Shawn Loiseau.

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