Adam Shaheen declares for NFL draft

Noah Cloonan

Adam Shaheen has the opportunity to do what only three people in the history of Ashland University have done and that is get drafted into the National Football League.

On Jan. 5, it was publically announced that the redshirt junior tight end would not be playing in his senior season and would declare for the NFL draft.

This announcement came on the heels of one of the greatest single season performances by a tight end in the history of Division II. Shaheen ended the 2016 season with 57 catches for 867 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Shaheen’s 16 touchdowns in 2016 was not only an Ashland school record but it was also a record for Division II.

“I felt my performance this season was at a very high level,” Shaheen said. “Just like my teammates, a lot of work and time went into this season and although it wasn’t perfect it was still a great experience and I learned a lot about what I need to work on going forward.”

Performing at a high level is not a new thing for Shaheen as he has been a highly productive player in each of the three seasons that he played for AU.

Shaheen graduated from Big Walnut high school and was recruited to play basketball at Pittsburgh-Johnstown, a division II school in Johnstown, PA.

He spent his freshman year on the basketball team and saw significant playing time while averaging 5.5 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per game.

Shaheen decided to transfer to Ashland University and  joined the football team. In his first season at AU, Shaheen was the No. 3 tight end on the depth chart and did not see much playing time early in the season. 

This changed in the final two games of the season as he caught two passes for 85 yards to end the year.

“I came in as a scrawny 205-pound guy, and I was just trying to get on the field any way I could,” Shaheen said. “I kept developing, and I had a good year two years ago (2015). Even then, I wanted to have another great year.”

Shaheen entered the 2015 season as the number one option at tight end for the Eagles and he did not disappoint. He caught 70 passes, which was the highest total by any tight end at any level of division II that season. 

He also had 803 receiving yards which led the team and 10 receiving touchdowns.

This dominant performance began to put Shaheen’s name on many draft boards around the country and started drawing a lot of attention to the tight end.

Shaheen followed up this incredible performance with a record breaking year in 2016.

Throughout the season, head coach Lee Owens mentioned that there were countless scouts from every NFL team inquiring about Shaheen. 

These inquires only increased after a three touchdown performance against Tiffin and a four touchdown game against Northwood.

It became clear that it was a possibility that Shaheen may leave early and forgo his senior season to enter the NFL draft, and that is exactly what happened.

Shaheen spent many hours talking with family, coaches and friends to gather input on how he should make his decision.

“I think a big factor was the fact that I worked with my professors and advisor and was going to be able to graduate if all goes according to plan,” Shaheen said. “That along with the fact that I may not have this opportunity next year if for some reason I was injured or something happened between now and then.”

The 6-7, 277 pound tight end has a lot of work to do in order to get ready for the 2017 NFL draft.

He is currently working out in Florida at the Exos facility where he participates in a strict workout program.

“The average day training for me is a morning movement session, followed by a lift and then position work in the morning and then relax until afternoon and then another movement session followed by the second half of the morning lift,” Shaheen said.

Shaheen is a rare breed in the fact that he will forgo his senior year at a Division II school and enter the draft.  

There were just nine tight ends selected in the 2016 draft, but this may play into Shaheen’s favor as the average number of tight ends taken in each draft is 12.8.

CBS Sports currently has Shaheen as the 12th rated tight end prospect in the draft this season.

“With his combination of size, hands, athleticism and ability after the catch, he’s an intriguing prospect that has the potential to create mismatches at the next level,”’s draft analyst Todd Worly said. “I’d be surprised if he doesn’t get a legitimate opportunity from an NFL team.”

An opportunity is all that Shaheen needs at this point as both his teammates and Owens have commended his work ethic.

“My hopes for the future are to play in the NFL and have a successful career,” Shaheen said.

Shaheen would join nine other Eagle players to have seen playing time in the NFL, but he could become just the fourth Eagle to be drafted.

Jeris Pendleton, Bill Overmyer, and Len Pettigrew were all drafted in the seventh round or later of the draft after graduating from AU.

“All college football players aspire to play in the NFL someday, and you want to go where there’s some evidence that that’s possible,” Owens said. “We really believe Adam is going to be drafted as high or higher than any player in the history of our school.”

The NFL draft will take place in Philadelphia on April 27-29.