By Mike McMahon
---- — Last summer, Shawn Loiseau was on top of the world.
Freshly graduated from Merrimack College, the former All-American linebacker was headed into training camp with the Houston Texans. Throughout camp, the undrafted free agent shined, impressing coaches with his work ethic and hustle.
But after being one of the last cuts in camp — his best game was the final preseason game — he came back to Massachusetts with literally no place to go.
His parents had to sell the Shrewsbury house he grew up in and moved into a two-bedroom apartment with his brother and sister.
“My dad was 70 at the time,” Loiseau said. “They had to do it and I had no place to stay so when I came back I was crashing at a buddy’s house on his couch up at his college.”
Loiseau says that other than his family, there was one person who stuck by him — new Merrimack head football coach Dan Curran.
“I couldn’t even afford food,” Loiseau said. “I went from 240 pounds to about 232. Coach Curran kept that power of positive thinking for me. He told me that he knew I’d be back in the NFL at some point and he believed in my ability.
“I was pretty low, but he stuck by me. He stuck his hand in the hole and pulled me out. He’d do it for anybody, too. He let me be around the (Merrimack) team and made me better.”
Curran, Merrimack’s former offensive coordinator, was promoted to the head job last month after John Perry left to take an offensive assistant job with Delaware.
Loiseau, the only player in Merrimack’s history to ink an NFL deal, pushed from the start for Curran to take over the program. He wasn’t the only one, either. Current players and parents, as well as alumni, let the Merrimack athletic department know that Curran was the man they wanted running the program.
“There are two types of people in this world,” Loiseau said. “There are thermometer people, they’re always changing with the temperature. They show up and work one day but not the next. Then there are thermostat people, the people who set the tone, they set the hard work and they live there. That’s Coach Curran.”
Loiseau signed a two-year futures contract with the Colts earlier this offseason, meaning he’ll be back in camp this summer.
He says that Curran, a former Chelmsford High and UNH star, continues to be a mentor.
After signing with the Colts last season before Week 10, one of the first people he talked to was Curran.
“He was the first guy I met that when I told him my goal was to play in the NFL he didn’t laugh at me. He told me I could do it,” Loiseau said. “He held me accountable to it, too. Every day he reminded me of that goal and made sure I was working towards it.
“That’s why I knew he was the perfect fit for Merrimack. I’ve had a lot of coaches at all levels, and I’ve never met someone who helps his kids on and off the field the way Coach Curran does. He has helped out guys with financial issues, family issues. What he has done for me is just incredible.”