Shawn Oakman’s Path to Redemption

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Photo Cred: FanBuzz

Shawn Oakman is a defensive end (DE) who plays for the Toronto Argonauts. He’s had two seasons in the Canadian Football League (CFL). In addition, he’s had six stints at five other football leagues, including the XFL. At one point, it seemed like his football career was in jeopardy. With the severity of the situation he was once in, maybe it was even over. However, Oakman doesn’t have to worry about that anymore. He can solely focus on playing football. Just being able to be out on that football field is another step he takes in his path toward redemption.

Photo Cred: Wikipedia

High School

Oakman seemed like a solid player coming out of high school, despite not playing the sport until freshman year. He was a dual-sport athlete back then, playing basketball as well. He won a state championship in basketball. Oakman played at Penn Wood High School in Lansdowne, PA.

Statistics

These statistics are from the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons:

Defensive end stats:

  • 17 games played (GP)
  • 46 total tackles (TCK)
  • 15.0 sacks (SK)
  • One forced fumble (FF)
  • Two fumble recoveries (FR)
  • 11 tackles-for-loss (TFL)
  • 18 quarterback (QB) hurries
  • Two passes defensed (PD)
  • One blocked field goal (FG)

Tight end (TE) stats:

  • 17 GP
  • 18 receptions (rec)
  • 354 receiving yards (yds)
  • 19.7 average receiving yards (avg.)
  • Five touchdowns (TD)
  • Four two-point conversions (2-pt)

Achievements

Rankings

  • 167th-ranked athlete in the country by 247Sports.
  • Fourth-ranked recruit in PA.
  • Ninth-ranked athlete in the nation.

Photo Cred: 247 Sports

College

He committed to Penn State and redshirted in his freshman year. He did not get any playing time and was later dismissed by the team. Oakman transferred to Baylor University in 2012 and had to take the whole season off, per NCAA transfer rules. With him on the team, Baylor was the Big 12 champion in 2013, the Big 12 co-champion in 2014, and the Russell Athletic Bowl champion in 2015.

Statistics

Statistics recorded by Sports Reference CFB:

  • 2013- 11 GP, 33 TCKs, 12.5 TFLs, 2.0 SKs, one FR, two FFs.
  • 2014- 13 GP, 52 TCKs, 19.5 TFLs, 11.0 SKs, three PDs, 2 FRs, 4 FFs.
  • 2015- 12 GP, 42 TCKs, 14.5 TFLs, 4.5 SKs, two FFs.
  • 2016 Senior Bowl performance: 2.0 SKs, one FF, two QB hurries.

Achievements

Photo Cred: StateCollege.com                               Photo Cred: Cat Scratch Reader

Draft Stock

After his junior season in 2014, he was a projected first-round pick in 2015. Some analysts even had him going first overall, should he have chosen to enter the draft. His decision to go back to college for his senior year didn’t pay off, though. His numbers were lower, so his stock fell. Now, he was almost like a second-round selection or lower. “Even though he was regarded as a surefire top-15 pick in last spring’s (2015) NFL draft, Oakman says the allure of becoming a millionaire and helping his family never came close to swaying his decision. “More money, more problems,” Oakman says. “I just want to be a kid for one more year. My family has been poor their whole lives. They can be poor for nine more months.”

Photo Cred: 247 Sports

He had a good production ratio ((SKs + TFLs)/GP) in his last two seasons. 1.98 was good enough to be fourth behind guys like Emmanuel Ogbah (2.00), Joey Bosa (2.07), and Bronson Kaufusi (2.00) in the 2016 DE draft class. However, there was a lot of criticism when it came to his college stats. He reportedly did not interview well and had issues with his game, according to a Cat Scratch Reader article. The Dallas Morning News had him projected as a second-to-fourth-round selection for 2016.

Photo Cred: NBC Sports

Personal Problems

Oakman has not had an easy life. Bleacher Report’s Jason King wrote an article about his early-life problems. A telling part of the article was this: “As a child, Oakman felt like an afterthought, a nuisance. As a fast-rising high school star, he was coddled like a king. At Penn State, he was tagged as a hooligan. It’s no coincidence he wears No. 2. “Second chances,” Oakman says.”

On February 25th, 2012, he got in trouble, and the incident led to his dismissal from Penn State. He was charged with disorderly conduct, harassment, and retail theft. In January 2013, he was in a police incident report at Baylor. The allegation was that he had physically assaulted a woman. He was also suspended for Baylor’s season opener in 2015. There was an unspecified rule violation.

The Career-Altering Incident

On April 13th, 2016, Oakman was arrested and charged with sexual assault (more information can be found here). He was indicted on second-degree felony charges of sexual assault on July 20th, 2016. He had to wait for a three-year investigation for his court case’s trial to begin. February 26th, 2019 was when it started, and a decision was reached two days later. The jury only had to deliberate for 45 minutes to come up with a not guilty verdict.

Photo Cred: The Baylor Lariat

This arrest had made him “undraftable” and took him off every team’s draft boards. He spent a whole year out of football after being undrafted in 2016. The indictment would’ve led to a prison sentence anywhere from two to 20 years. Even after it was all over, there is one thought that still sticks around in his head. Three years for 45 minutes… It took three years for the trial and only 45 minutes for a decision to be made. All he can do now is move forward, which is what he intends to do.

Life During and After

He may have graduated from Baylor with a kinesiology degree, but the trial was a dark cloud looming over his head. Due to this, he could only work menial jobs to pay the bills. He started as a diaper packer in a warehouse. His next work was with a landscape fabric fertilizer company. Then, he worked for a recycling plant, a local carnival, and a concrete company. His final menial job was with an event-planning service, which conflicted with his ongoing situation. He was banned from Baylor’s campus, so he could not be involved with anything related to them. As can be seen later, he started getting better football-related opportunities after his not guilty verdict.

Photo Cred: YouTube

Lesser-known Football Leagues

Oakman’s path back to the football field began with the American Arena League and the Triangle Torch in November 2017. His next stop was the Champions Indoor Football league. He played for the Bismarck Bucks from March 8th, 2018. On April 6th, 2019, he played in The Spring League for the Austin Generals. His last stop in a lesser-known league was in June 2019. He played for the West Virginia Roughriders of the American Arena League. The league that first took him in got him another shot, thus completing the circle.

Photo Cred: Facebook                                            Photo Cred: Twitter

Known Football Leagues

His first move to a known football league was the XFL on October 16th, 2019. He played for the Los Angeles Wildcats, who drafted him in Phase 5: open draft. He did get waived before getting re-signed and playing, though. Oakman parlayed this stint into a CFL signing, where he’s been for the past two years. In between, he did have a one-game appearance in the Fan Controlled Football league. He played in the final game of the season, the People’s Championship, which his team (Wild Aces) won.

Photo Cred: PhillyVoice                                          Photo Cred: CFL News Hub

His team had a 2-3 record in the XFL. In the CFL, his team went 9-5 and first place in the East Division. However, the Argonauts lost in the East Division Final. I hope he can rebuild his reputation as a good football player like he was in the past. I wish to see him in the NFL soon enough. He’s not too old (he’s 30), so I believe there’s still a chance an NFL team signs him. He’s had some tryouts, including one with the New Orleans Saints. Oakman has even had “upcoming NFL showings” with a few teams.

Photo Cred: Getty Images (Oakman is jersey #75)

Statistics

  • XFL– Five GP, seven TCKs, one SK, three QB hits, one TFL, one PD.
  • CFL
    • 2021- 13 GP, 35 TCKs (defense), one special teams TCK, 6.0 SKs
    • 2022- Four GP, five TCKs (defense), 2.0 SKs

Achievements

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