Record-setting Ashland University junior tight end Adam Shaheen will forgo his final season of eligibility to enter the 2017 National Football League Draft.
"I'm 22 already, so it's not like I'm only in my third year of college. I've been in college for four years, and I've had two good seasons," Shaheen said. "I have an opportunity right now. My biggest thing was the door is open, to try to get my foot in and let's go.
"You can think of a scenario where I stay another year and everything goes perfectly and my draft stock goes up. I have an opportunity right now, and I want to take it. I just kind of sat back and listened to every different opinion and idea and thoughts."
The 2017 NFL Draft will be April 27-29 in Philadelphia, Pa.
In just two seasons as a starter, Shaheen became the top tight end in Eagle football history – and one of the best in the history of NCAA Division II. In 2016, he caught 57 passes for 867 yards and a school-record/Division II tight end single-season record 16 touchdowns.
Shaheen finished his junior campaign leading all D-II tight ends in catches, receiving yards and receiving TDs, and is tied for the lead in touchdown catches among tight ends at all NCAA levels.
"We've got to celebrate the fact that he's had an unbelievable football career here. I don't know how he could have done any more," said Ashland head coach Lee Owens. "And the fact that he's going to get his degree is big. And we're going to be rooting for him.
"His legacy here is pretty big. We're proud of the fact that he was here, and look forward to the great things he's going to do at the next level."
Shaheen's junior-season accolades are many:
- First-team NCAA Division II Conference Commissioner's Association (D2CCA) All-America
- First-team American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II Coaches' All-America
- D2CCA first-team All-Super Region 4
- College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) first-team Academic All-America
- CoSIDA first-team Academic All-District
- All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference first-team
- Harlon Hill Trophy (D-II Player of the Year) nominee
- First tight end in GLIAC history to win the conference's Offensive Player of the Week award (Oct. 10)
In 2015, Shaheen burst on to the scene with an AU tight end-record 70 catches, which led all NCAA tight ends at all levels, for 803 yards and 10 touchdowns. As a sophomore, Shaheen earned AFCA Division II Coaches' All-America, D2Football.com honorable mention All-American, CoSIDA Academic All-America Division II second team, Don Hansen All-Super Region Four second team, D2CCA All-Super Region 4 second team, CoSIDA Academic All-District, All-GLIAC first team and GLIAC All-Academic Excellence Team honors.
"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. Even then, I wanted to have another great year."
Shaheen is the first Eagle to earn two AFCA first-team All-American awards, and the first Ashland football player to garner two Academic All-America honors since Chad DiFranco in 1995-96.
Shaheen's 26 career touchdown catches are two short of the program record, his 129 career catches are fifth all-time at Ashland and his 1,755 career receiving yards are 10th in Eagle football history.
Eight former Eagles have played in NFL regular-season games, with former Ashland All-American defensive lineman Jamie Meder currently starting for the Cleveland Browns. Three Ashland football players – defensive tackle Jeris Pendleton (seventh round, 2012, Jacksonville), linebacker Bill Overmyer (14th round, 1972, Philadelphia) and linebacker Len Pettigrew (ninth round, 1971, Philadelphia) – have been chosen in the NFL Draft.
"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."