By Matt Noonan
NORTH ANDOVER, MA – For the past few weeks and months, Merrimack College’s football program has received a lot of publicity, mainly because of their former linebacker Shawn Loiseau, who was an undrafted rookie free agent that was claimed by the Houston Texans.
Loiseau, who has played in two preseason contests this summer, has been an inspiration for many Warriors players that hope to continue their playing careers after graduation.
This past Friday, I had the chance to chat with head coach John Perry about the Pro Day workout for NFL scouts, which he spearheaded, as well as his thoughts about Northeast-10 players and Division II players that attempt to earn a spot on a professional roster.
Last season, you organized Merrimack’s first Pro Day workout for NFL scouts, and I was wondering if you could talk about how it was assembled? How do you think it helped the various players from the school or nearby?
“One of the things that’s great [is our coaching staff] has been preaching to these kids — whether it’s President [Christopher] Hopey right through the athletic department — taking this thing to another level, and the kids have responded to that and obviously Shawn brought a lot of attention to the school, but James Suozzo, as well as Tony Johnson did, and we’re looking for the next guy, so as we’re coming into that — we had all 32 teams, who came in and scouted those guys during the season and there was a strong demand to have scouts comeback and work our guys, and I thought it took on a life of its own. We had some players from some other schools, so it was really exciting and every day we just want to take steps forward to making this a premier program and I think those seniors have done that and all the seniors in the past have done that, and we’re on their backs and these guys are carrying on that tradition.”
From a coaching perspective, what does it mean to you to have not only a player from your program, but also NE-10 players competing for a job in the NFL?
“I think it’s a lot for the Northeast-10 Conference. This is a great conference, and people come out and watch us play notice that we’ve got great caliber football. There’s been a lot of things at the Division I level, [and] there’s less Division I schools in this New England area than there ever has, which has built up the Division II level of football. There are guys like Shawn Loiseau, Tony Johnson and there are guys littered throughout our league that is Division I players that are now playing Division II football. We’ve got great caliber football, it’s a work-horse league where the team who shows up and plays the hardest has the best chance to win and it’s a great level of football, great talent, great coaching, [and] I think it’s a great tribute to the Northeast-10.”
I know that you’re focus is on preparing your squad for the upcoming season, but have you been able to track Shawn’s progress this summer?
“Well, he gives me updates and things like that, and coach [Dan] Curran has been staying in touch with him, and he’s just really excited to be there. He’s just a great example for our kids because there’s no wasted moments for him now. Every moment is everything he’s got, and these kids see that and they were all texting me during [the Texans first preseason] game, but it was exciting to see his stat line and all the texts he sent me and telling me how it was and how it felt to be on the field, and he belongs there. He deserves to be there, he doesn’t look out of place and we wish him all the luck in the world.”