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Shawn Oakman Update: What Happened To The Former Baylor Football Star?

Shawn Oakman playing for Baylor against Lamar.

WACO, TX - SEPTEMBER 12: Shawn Oakman #2 of the Baylor Bears and Kade Harrington #8 of the Lamar Cardinals at McLane Stadium on September 12, 2015 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Remember Shawn Oakman - the former Baylor football star who became a meme after making college football players look like little boys? Standing at 6-foot-9 and 286 pounds, Oakman was impossible to miss on the football field, so at the young age of 28 why is he out of the spotlight and where is he today?

Every couple of years a college football player seems to catch the attention of the public for how physically gifted he looks. D.K. Metcalf, Myles Garrett and Brian Orakpo are a few examples of NFL players, who, when they were in college, received national attention for the freakish size and definition of their bodies. It's not hard to understand when a player that fits this profile makes it to the NFL, but it is pretty perplexing when they fail to do so. Former Baylor defensive lineman Shawn Oakman is an example of a physically intimidating college football star who never made it to the NFL.

Oakman's rise to football stardom began at Penn Wood High School in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, where he became a nationally-ranked 4-star recruit. He committed to play for coach Bill O'Brien at Penn State, but unfortunately his time with the Nittany Lions didn't last very long. He redshirted his freshman season in 2011 and was dismissed from Penn State in early 2012 for a violation of team rules. Oakman transferred to Baylor University and due to NCAA rules, had to sit out the entire 2012 season. As a backup for Baylor in 2013, Oakman played in 13 games and was able to record two sacks. The following season is when he really made a name for himself.

Baylor's mascot at a football game.

(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Oakman's Rise To Internet Fame

In 2014 Oakman was named a starter and his success on the field earned him Third Team All-American honors and a spot on the All-Big 12 team. Prior to Baylor's Cotton Bowl matchup against Michigan State, Oakman was sent out as a team captain for the coin toss and the rest was history. A picture of Oakman staring down his Michigan State opponents went viral and Oakman became an internet sensation overnight. To this day Oakman memes remain in circulation on Twitter and other social media platforms.

Many thought Oakman could have been a first round pick following his 2014 season, however he decided to return to Baylor. Coming into the 2015 season, Oakman's NFL Draft stock was as high as ever, some analysts even projected him to be the first overall pick. Unfortunately 2015 didn't bring as much success for Oakman. His sack numbers were down and analysts began to find flaws in his game. Despite the diminished results on the football field, at this point Oakman was still projected to be selected in the NFL Draft.

Shawn Oakman's NFL Combine Measurements

A photo from the NFL Scouting Combine.

(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Because of his freakish size and abilities, many thought the NFL Combine could be an opportunity for Oakman to regain his first-round-pick status. While we didn't need numbers to know that Oakman was a giant, he was officially measured at 6-foot-9 287 pounds, and he ran a 4.96 40-yard-dash, recorded a 32-inch vertical and completed 23 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. None of these numbers suggested that he would go undrafted.

Shawn Oakman's Arrest

While Oakman's stock was already trending downward after an underwhelming season, a sexual assault arrest made him "undraftable" in many teams' eyes. Just two weeks before the NFL Draft, Oakman was arrested after a Baylor graduate student accused him of sexually assaulting her in his apartment. The NFL Draft came and went and Oakman was left undrafted and awaiting an investigation into his case. That July he was indicted on the sexual assault charges which could carry a prison sentence of two to 20 years.

Although no NFL teams were willing to take Oakman on while he awaited his verdict, he was still able to play football. After going undrafted, a full year went by before Oakman signed with a professional football team. In the fall of 2017, Oakman signed with the Triangle Torch of the American Arena League where he played just one season. While he was still waiting for his trial he played one season for the Bismarck Bucks of the Champion Indoor Football League.

Shawn Oakman's Sexual Assault Trial

The trial lasted two days and after a quick deliberation, a jury found Oakman not guilty of the sexual assault charges. After a nearly three-year investigation, enough evidence was presented to the jury for them to decide that the sex was consensual. Oakman was free to walk and his name was cleared.

Following his trial, Oakman had a quick stint in The Spring League, the same league that Johnny Manziel attempted a comeback in just a year prior. Oakman spent another summer in the American Arena League before being drafted by the Los Angeles Wildcats of The XFL.

How Shawn Oakman Did In The XFL

Winston Moss on the field pregame for the Los Angeles Wildcats.

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Before the XFL season officially started, Oakman was cut by the Los Angeles Wildcats for poor decisions on the practice field. When asked why he was cut Oakman said "I had made a play on a player and we were supposed to do two hand touch and in my head I am just going full speed…. In my head I had something to prove, I had a chip on my shoulder, all these guys have been playing football, I hadn’t and I’m still trying to get it. I am still trying to prove that I am still that same person that ya’ll seen in College. So I grabbed the kid and tried to twirl and the head coach didn’t like it. So that day, I had also tackled the quarterback and made another dumb play. That last play was the burner.”

Oakman eventually apologized to Wildcats coach Winston Moss and was reinstated once the season began. Besides his brief release from the team, his time in the XFL was rather uneventful, although he did record a sack in his debut. Following the league's decision to suspend operations Oakman's contract was terminated.

What Is Shawn Oakman Doing Today?

On February 15th 2021, Oakman signed a deal to play for the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL. He will be joined by former Clemson stars Martavis Bryant and Kelly Bryant as the Argonauts get set to play this summer. Toronto finished 4-14 last season, but maybe Oakman can help turn things around.

Although his dreams of playing in the NFL have certainly been delayed, maybe now that his name has been cleared he can gain some momentum in the CFL and eventually find his way onto an NFL roster.