Merrimack's Loiseau a combine underdog

INDIANAPOLIS -- New England Patriots fans have seen first-hand that a Division II player can make a big impact, as running back Danny Woodhead (Chadron State) has been a key contributor in each of the last two seasons.

It’s possible that the next Division II-to-the-NFL success story has an even stronger local tie-in.

Linebacker Shawn Loiseau of Merrimack College took part in this week’s NFL combine, ensuring that he’s on the radar of scouts from across the 32-team league. The Pro Football Draft Preview projects him as a sixth- or seventh-round selection, while ESPN’s Scouts Inc., slots him as the 10th-rated player at inside linebacker.

“It wasn’t an easy road getting to where I’m at right now,” said Loiseau, who grew up in Shrewsbury, Mass., and has been a lifelong Patriots fan. “My biggest thing that I tell people is it doesn’t matter what you know, it’s where you want to go and how hard you’re willing to work to get there.”

Loiseau, who measured just shy of 6-foot-1 and weighed in at 244 pounds at the combine, said it’s been his dream to play in the NFL since he was 7. After leading Shrewsbury High to a 13-0 record and Super Bowl championship as a senior, he received no offers from Division I or I-AA schools.

“I never stopped thinking about it, it just made me want to work harder,” he said. “I have a huge chip on my shoulder.”

At the combine, Loiseau has taken a measure of pride in representing all the underdogs like him.

“Not a lot of Division II guys are even in the NFL right now. It’s huge for me to represent my school and Division II,” he said.

Loiseau played in 35 games at Merrimack, starting his final 30, and totaled 382 tackles (26.5 for a loss) and 11 sacks. The Pro Football Weekly Draft Preview calls him an “extremely intense competitor” who is a “physical presence” and a “noticeable standout on special teams.”