Six catches for 100 yards in his senior year of high school. One reception for eight yards in three years in college. These are not the eye-popping stats that NFL scouts are looking for when they evaluate a prospect to take a chance on in the NFL Draft.
But you could not tell that to former Southern Miss walk-on receiver Shawn Brickley.
“I would love to show teams my work ethic, my speed and my route-running ability,” Brickley said in an interview with Chargers Wire on April 8 in reference to getting a chance in the NFL. “I want to prove I can actually contribute and play at the next level.”
Brickley, a native of New Orleans, La., came to Southern Miss after only playing football in his senior year of high school. At Salmen High in Slidell, La., Brickley was not recruited and went to Southern Miss in hopes of playing football at the next level. He was afforded that chance in the 0-12 season under Ellis Johnson.
The next year is when he made strides on the practice field, but not in an actual game. It was not until 2014, a year in which USM finished the year with a 3-9 record, that he would make his collegiate debut against then No. 23 Marshall Thundering Herd.
But, he did not only just learn lessons from the gridiron at Southern Miss.
“From Southern Miss I learned in order to play football you have to be mentally tough,” Brickley said. “[It also] taught me family, brotherhood and toughness. That’s it.”
Not being able to get on the field can be frustrating. Brickley had a period of time where he wanted to give up his NFL dream during his junior year, but, he stuck with his dream.
“Every time I fell, I feel like it ain’t doing nothing but adding field to my fire,” Brickley said. “It just made me play with a chip on my shoulder every time I go out there between the lines and play football.”
As a receiver, the gaudy stats will get you on some team’s roster and Brickley has the gameplan to get there.
“To be a good receiver, it takes good [hand-eye] coordination, good hands, good route running, speed and the ability to come in and out your breaks,” Brickley said.
With that plan and his work ethic, those tangibles carried him all the way to April 4 — the Southern Miss Pro Day. Brickley’s numbers (sub-4.5 40-yard dash time and 11 reps on the bench press) are what he believes to be enough to get him an opportunity on an NFL roster.
“It’s a beautiful opportunity for me,” Brickley said. “I enjoy coming out here every day and running routes. I think running routes in front of scouts is a beautiful opportunity. I enjoy doing this every day.”
Brickley was accompanied by former teammates such as Dylan Bradley, Nick Mullens, D’Nerius Antoine and Devonta Foster. But even as those NFL prospects would get playing time during the year, Brickley would still get motivation while awaiting his chance.
“Dylan Bradley always told me to remain positive and just come out here and do what I can do,” Brickley said. “Just perform at my best. Nick [Mullens] always stayed positive with me. He told me to just run good routes and get upfield. I can describe brotherhood in one word — family.”
In the meantime of trying to prepare himself for the New Orleans Saints’ Locals Day on April 14, Brickley will be pursuing a Master’s degree in Philosophy.