December 2, 2021

Hogan: Oakman ready for the Eastern Final

Toronto Argonauts defensive lineman Shawn Oakman (90) pumps up the crowd in the second half of their CFL football game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Toronto, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

“It’s been pretty much double teams all over the league, for me anyway.”

Those words roll effortlessly off the tongue of Shawn Oakman without even a hint of frustration; it’s just a way of life for the massive Toronto Argonauts defensive tackle.

The Philadelphia native is so used to being double teamed he may be surprised if when he runs through the tunnel for Sunday’s Eastern Final there aren’t two Hamilton Tiger-Cat offensive linemen standing in his way, trying to prevent him from running unabated to the bench.

There’s a reason for that; the 6’9”, 287-pound behemoth has been a major pain in the Oskee Wee Wee for Hamilton this year. Oakman has recorded four sacks against the Ticats, knocked down multiple passes, and made quarterbacks think twice about throwing in his direction.

“They’re going to definitely send their doubles,” he said in a conversation with Argonauts.ca. “They’re going to double up through the three (gap) and try to work on to the linebacker.”

Such is the life of an interior lineman. Constantly in the thick of the action, often doing the unsung work in plugging up gaps, lost to fans to a degree because eyes are drawn to players coming off the edge.

Oakman is in his first year in Toronto after NCAA stops at Penn State and Baylor, with pro experience in arena football and the XFL. He hasn’t had a chance to explore his new city because “I’ve been focused. I’ve been bunkered away trying to stay healthy and be the best teammate I can be.”

Whether he realizes it or not, he has been. Players have watched Oakman and tried to emulate some of his traits. For a rookie like Sam Acheampong, playing next to him has been eye opening.

What’s the most impressive thing about Oakman to Acheampong?

“His length of course,” the Brampton native said of Oakman, whose arms are so long it seems he could stand in the middle of the field and touch both sidelines at the same time. “He’s able to do things that a lot of people can’t.”

The 6’5” Laurier product truly has someone to pattern his game after.

“I’m not as tall as him – I’m pretty tall – so I look at his film and try to do some of the things he does. His bull rush; he bulls and then he swims a little. He’s had success just doing that move alone. It’s pretty impressive.”

The Argos are perhaps the healthiest they’ve been since the first day of training camp. It’s going to make the composition of the game day roster interesting as there will no doubt be some talented players who will become healthy scratches for Sunday.

While it’s a tough position to be in for the decision makers, Oakman is thrilled that virtually everyone on the defensive side of the ball is ready to go.

“It’s lovely to have the cavalry,” he said. “Especially guys like Shane Ray, Kony Ealy, even E-Rod (Eric Rogers) have been down. It’s great to have those guys back because they bring great talent and leadership to this team.”

A player with Oakman’s combination of skill and body type is a dream for Chris Jones, the man who dials up the defensive plays. For the coaching staffs of both teams this will be a challenging game. It’s hard to think of a situation where two teams have played each other an astonishing five times in the same season.

Trying to find a different wrinkle will be the goal of every unit on both teams. Oakman was asked if he thought the Ticats would throw anything different at the Double Blue D this week.

“We hope not,” he replied with a laugh. “Hopefully we’re able to counteract whatever they have to show. It’s very important that we stay focused on the things that we have to do as a team and as a unit to stop them on offence.”

On a team with playmakers at virtually every position, Oakman fits in perfectly. The fact that he can still make plays while double-teamed speaks to his talent, while it also allows one of his teammates to battle a Ticat one on one.

It’s these games within the game that will undoubtedly be a big factor on Sunday afternoon.

Kickoff time is 12:30 and if you’re going to the game, the gates open at 11:00 and we recommend you get there early to avoid any lines to get into BMO Field.

For tickets, click here.