Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Shawn Loiseau, linebacker star at Division II Merrimack, hopes to make big name at East-West Shrine Game

ST. PETERSBURG — For all the big-time colleges with familiar logos gracing the sides of helmets at the East-West Shrine Game on Saturday night, there is also the obscure blue-and-gold "MC" proudly worn by linebacker Shawn Loiseau of Division II Merrimack College.

For small-school obscurity, it's hard to top Loiseau, who has never played before a crowd of more than 3,000 in his life and hadn't flown in a plane until he took one here. Coaches have taken to calling him "Rudy," after the Notre Dame walk-on of movie fame, even though this Rudy is 6 feet 1 and 242 pounds, with 254 tackles in the past two seasons.

"It's incredible. My whole life, I've been told I wasn't good enough to play versus these guys," said Loiseau, who didn't have major-college interest coming out of high school in the Worcester, Mass., suburb of Shrewsbury. "It feels great to be surrounded by great players. I'm watching these guys on TV, and now I get to have them as my teammates. I'd never been on a plane. I'm used to 12-hour bus rides for away games. This whole experience is incredible."

Loiseau was a two-time conference player of the year at Merrimack, with an enrollment just more than 2,000 and located in North Andover, Mass. He helped the Warriors win the Northeast 10 conference in 2009. His college experience is unlike most of the players in St. Petersburg this week, but it was everything he hoped.

"I got told I would play early, win a championship and be surrounded by great guys, and did all three of those things. I couldn't ask for anything more," Loiseau said.

Merrimack never has had a player drafted since launching its program in 1996, but Loiseau is on the NFL radar; there may have been 1,134 fans at his final home game, but there were also 27 NFL scouts, coach John Perry said.

"One of my biggest things is I never want to be outworked," he said. "No matter what it is, whenever I step on a football field, I never want to be outworked by anybody. I come from a small school, so (Saturday) I just want to go out there, fly around and make plays."

If there's anyone who can appreciate the small-school star, it's East linebackers coach Sam Mills III, who starred at Division II Montclair State, just as his late father, Sam, did before a 12-year NFL career.

"This is a big week for Shawn. It reaffirms his thinking that he can play with these guys on this level, and it's good for us as coaches to see him play with guys at this level," said Mills, now an assistant with the Carolina Panthers. "Whenever you get a guy who has that many tackles as he has, you like to bring him here to confirm that there's no transition for him. He's fine."

There are some big transitions for Loiseau this week. His father called with news of 4 inches of snow in Shrewsbury, so Loiseau is the one walking around in a tank top while his Florida teammates are in jackets. And the idea of getting paid to play football — even $150 in walking-around money this week — is a novelty in itself.

"It doesn't even make sense to me. The thing called 'per diem.' They've got this thing, you show up and they're like, 'Shawn, here's your per diem,' " he said. " 'What is that?' They're like, 'This is money.' I said, 'What do you do with it?' They said, 'You can do whatever you want with it.' "

Loiseau gets a huge spotlight Saturday with a chance to show he belongs, not only with the major-college stars but as an NFL prospect. The early impressions in practice this week have been promising.

"You see his attitude and intensity. Humongous," Mills said. "You see his leadership. He can run with guys, he can tackle. He's a big hitter. Once you get lined up, football is football. You see the guys that make plays. Shawn has shown he's a guy who can make plays."

Shawn Loiseau, linebacker star at Division II Merrimack, hopes to make big name at East-West Shrine Game 01/19/12 [Last modified: Thursday, January 19, 2012 9:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. History shows Ole Miss upheaval tough to overcome


    After Mississippi football coach Hugh Freeze resigned Thursday, with the opener six weeks away, offensive line coach Matt Luke is being thrown into an interim head coaching position. He will try to save a season that already had been scarred by a self-imposed bowl ban for NCAA violations.

    After coach Jim Tressel resigned, Ohio State went 6-7, including a loss to Florida in the Gator Bowl, in 2011.
  2. Bucs add top executive from MLS to business side


    The Bucs have hired a top executive from Major League Soccer to their business operations in Atul "AK" Khosla, who has spent the last six years as chief operating officer of Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire.

    Atul Khosla, 38, spent the last six years as chief operating officer of MLS' Chicago Fire. He joins the Bucs as their new chief corporate development and brand officer.
  3. Minors also a training ground for umpires with big-league dreams

    The Heater

    Umpire Tom Fornarola, 23, left, and Taylor Payne, 24, facing, talk before the start of the Gulf Coast League game between the New York Yankees and the Detroit Tigers at the Tigertown complex in Lakeland, Fla. on Wednesday, July 5, 2017.
  4. For starters: Souza not in lineup vs. Rangers



  5. Remember that famous Fred McGriff TV commercial? He's back, in a parody


    If you've ever seen Fred McGriff's TV commerical for Tom Emanski's Defensive Drills video it will always be fresh in your mind, with the deadpan delivery and famously ill-fitting cap.

    Fred McGriff in his new commercial for Chassis, a men's grooming line, that looks a lot like his old one.