North Andover, Mass. – Merrimack senior captain linebacker Shawn Loiseau (Shrewsbury, Mass.) has been selected to play in the 87th annual East-West Shrine Game, which will be played Saturday January 21 at St. Petersburg's Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Northeast-10 Defensive Player of the Year will be participating in the nation's longest-running college all-star game, one that benefits Shriners Hospitals for Children nationwide.
Day #4 – Tuesday January 17
Today was the first practice with full pads for us. We had camera crews and as many scouts as the first day of practice here today watching our every move. Things went great.
Our defense looks really good so far, and our offense is full of athletes including running back Tauren Poole from Tennessee; he is the quickest guy I have ever played against. Our fullback is from Georgia; he weighs 270 pounds and is a beast. Our offensive line is made up of some huge guys. They are all over six-foot-two and are at least 300 pounds. One of the offensive guards that I play against in drills and scrimmages is from the University of South Florida and he is six-foot-three, 335 pounds.
This is nothing like I see at the Division II level. I think I have turned some heads down here and have shown that I can hold my own against the best competition in the country. I have had multiple meetings with NFL scouts from a variety of teams, and I continue to work hard and soak in this experience as much as possible.
Tomorrow is our last day of full pads and our last day to get some hits in before Saturday's game.
I'm holding it down for all my teammates at Merrimack and representing Division II to the fullest while I'm here. Hope everyone back home is doing well and I promise that the East team and I have something in store for everyone when Saturday comes!!
Day #3 – Monday January 16
"This morning we had to wake up, go to breakfast and then had official height, hand measurement, wingspan and weight done. It was done on a stage only wearing spandex shorts in front of NFL scouts. I weighed in at 241.5 pounds. After that we had our first practice of the week. We arrived at Tropicana field and went into the locker room where we had our own locker with our name on it. All of our equipment and gear were already laid out for us. I am wearing number 10 for the game this week. The guy to my left is a tight end from Miami hurricanes and the guy to my right is a defensive back from Norte dame. It was funny to see the Merrimack helmet in between those two schools helmets. Our first practice was just helmets and it was in front of probably 100 NFL scouts from all 32 teams. The field was lined with them and they were watching and marking down our every move. Playing with these guys is an unbelievable experience and something that I will never take for granted. After practice we went back to the hotel and were given massages and then had personal interviews with the NFL teams that were interested in us. Everything is going great so far and tomorrow will be our first practice with pads. So I get to see what these division one boys are really all about tomorrow morning! My attitude is to never be out worked and that is what I continue to do in every drill and every step that we are put through while being down here."
Day #2 – Sunday January 15
"The second day here we got the opportunity to go to the shrine children's hospital and spend time with the children and families from the hospital. It was a great experience and to be able to spend time with these kids makes coming down here about more than just football. These kids are tougher mentally than any of us athletes are physically. To see how these children responded to all of us being there and being given the chance to sign autographs and do activities with them was special. "Strong legs run so that weak legs may walk" is the slogan that the shrine hospital uses and seeing these kids really showed what it means to be a part of such a good cause."
Day #1 – Saturday January 14
"Arriving here in Tampa has been even better than I expected. I am surrounded by some of the best college football players in the country and have an opportunity to do something that I have wanted to do ever since I was little. After arriving at the hotel we were given our shrine game gear and our itinerary. Then we were given multiple questionnaires and NFL sheets to fill out. After meeting my roommate and teammate who is also a linebacker, Najae Goode from West Virginia, we went down to our team meeting and I got a chance to meet the rest of my team. I was surrounded by guys from all the biggest programs in the country including Florida, Notre Dame, South Carolina, Georgia and the list goes on. I feel right where I belong here. No matter what their logo on the side of their helmet says or where they come from, at the end of the day we all bleed and sweat the same way. I have been waiting for this opportunity my whole life and I can't wait to get on that field and represent for Merrimack College, the NE-10 and all of the small school guys around the country."
A three-time first team All-Conference selection, Loiseau became the first two-time Northeast-10 Defensive Player of the Year selection in Merrimack football history in 2011. Loiseau was named 2nd team All-American by Don Hansen and honorable mention All-American by D2 football during his senior and junior seasons in which he recorded a school-record 133 tackles and 121 tackles respectively. Loiseau has been selected as an All-Region selection for three straight seasons, as he has led the Warriors and conference in tackles all three years. He has ranked second nationally in tackles per game two straight seasons and led the conference in total tackles both seasons.
Check back each day this week as Loiseau will be blogging about all of his experiences from his week at the Shrine game.