Football is a sport where we often see some of the most promising athletes rise quickly and fall quickly. Some players just fall short on talent. But then, there are players like Shawn Oakman, who had off-the-field issues that kept him from cashing in that lottery ticket.
A lot of you are probably asking who is that? Maybe, you get some deja vu from hearing the name Shawn Oakman, but can’t pinpoint why.
Well, we’re here to provide you with a little refresher, as we look back on the rise and fall of Oakman, and get you up-to-date on where he is now..
Rise of Shawn Oakman
Oakman grew up in the Philadelphia area and played football at Penn Wood High School in Landsdowne. He originally committed to stay in Pennsylvania for his college career and play at Penn State.
However, he redshirted the year the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal broke and then was dismissed by new Penn State Head Coach Bill O’Brien in 2012 for violating team rules.
This resulted in Oakman transferring to Baylor for a new start, and a new home. Well, he originally made the most of it.
Becoming An Internet Star With The Baylor Bears
Baylor football as a whole had a lot of success in Oakman’s three years there from 2013-15. They went 32-7 combined in those three seasons, including appearances in the Cotton Bowl and Fiesta Bowl.
Oakman put up impressive stats of his own, particularly in 2014. That season, he had 52 total tackles, 11 sacks, four forced fumbles, and two recovered fumbles.
While he did not have as big of a year in 2015, he did become a social media star after his 6’9, 280-pound frame was caught on the massive video board in AT&T Stadium. That was the moment when all those Shawn Oakman memes you’ve probably seen on Twitter were officially born.
NFL teams had their eye on him too during his time with the Baylor Bears. By the end of the 2015 season and heading into the 2016 draft, the consensus was that Oakman would be one of the Top 100 college football players taken in the NFL draft.
He was on his way to a big payday and a real shot at a professional football career. But, he never made it to the NFL. He never even got drafted.
So the question is, what happened to him?
Fall of Shawn Oakman
Oakman would have likely been drafted in the first three rounds of the NFL draft. However, he became not only a public relations nightmare but a legal nightmare that no team wanted to touch.
On April 13, 2016, Oakman was arrested by police in Waco, Texas, on sexual assault charges. He met a woman at a local bar shortly prior, and the two went back to his place and had sexual relations.
The woman accused him of forcing her into his bedroom and onto his bed, forcing her to remove her clothes, and then assaulted her.
The Shawn Oakman news spread like wildfire and that was the end of Oakman’s draft hopes. He ended up not only going undrafted, but now he had a legal battle to pursue.
It is not the only sexual assault accusation that has floated around college football, but the timing of this and the fact that this was not Oakman’s first assault accusation did not help his case.
He was indicted by a grand jury in July of 2016 on second-degree felony sexual assault and had to fight legal charges from this incident for nearly three years.
Finally, in late February of 2019, a jury had a very short deliberation and ruled him not guilty of sexual assault.
He may have avoided serving time and actual legal charges, but not only did he lose three years of his life fighting this and have to pay legal fees, but he lost all hope of being drafted by the NFL.
That accusation cost him at least several hundred thousand dollars, maybe even millions. He has never played a snap in the NFL.
So, what did he do? How did he support himself? Did he ever play football again?
Life After Being Accused
For the first couple of years, Oakman was in the middle of facing legal fees, so it took a while to get his professional football career off the ground. Unfortunately, it was not in the NFL, and he has never really been able to set some proper footing on a team or in a league.
Oakman has played for five different teams and leagues in four years. He finally got a shot in late 2017 by the Triangle Torch before those four teams, but never made it past the practice squad.
He spent the 2018 season on the Bismarck Bucks of Champions Indoor Football. Then in 2019, Oakman signed with the West Virginia Roughriders of the American Arena League.
In 2020, Oakman tried to get a new start with the Los Angeles Wildcats of the XFL, which was trying to get a re-birth. However, financial problems and the pandemic resulted in suspended operations there. He also signed a two-year contract to play with the CFL’s BC Lions that same year. Unfortunately, the free agent defensive lineman’s return to the gridiron was once again thwarted by the coronavirus. In this instance, the CFL suspended operations before the Lions submitted Oakman’s contract, leaving him without a team once more.
Where Is Shawn Oakman Now?
In 2021, he started out as a player on the Wild Aces of Fan Controlled Football. Now, he is going north of the border once again, signing a contract to play for the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL.
Oakman is now 29 years old. He has very likely lost any hope of ever playing a down in the NFL.
That can all be traced back to one accusation in April of 2016, one that a jury did not seem even close to ruling him guilty of. Yet, it cost him everything professionally.
Five years removed, he is still bouncing around different professional football leagues, still trying to find a home. Still trying to find some solid ground, something he arguably has not had since his Baylor days.
For now, he has to keep proving himself. And, he may have to start thinking more about life after football.
Read More About Former Spotlight Players
What do you think of Shawn Oakman? Do you want to read about more players that used to be in the spotlight?
Find more profiles and update stories on players like Oakman and other notable stories throughout our website.