It took him a while- seventeen years to be exact- but Sean Sherman finally found the love of his life: football.
Until May of his junior year at Trinity Catholic (Ocala, FL), Sean, a 6'5", 245 lb lineman, never even strapped on a pair of football cleats, much less a helmet. As a freshman, he was just 5'5" 160 so followed in his father's footsteps by joining the wrestling team. "It was fun but hard so after that I focused on tennis. I grew up around tennis." Sean played tennis through his junior year at Trinity. Then his friend Johnny Gargano gave him an idea: play football.
So he did.
"Johnny convinced me to come out for spring football and I loved it. Once I got the pads on and got into it, I just didn't want to stop." That spring, Sean learned the offensive tackle position and moved to Nose Tackle in the fall, playing behind Johnny in the depth chart. But the fall season came and went, with Jacksonville Bolles ending Trinity's playoff bid and Sean's new love saying goodbye well before he was ready to do the same. He still wasn't ready to stop playing football.
So he didn't.
Sean and his father, Rick, searched for prep schools where Sean could continue to learn the game while polishing himself academically, making himself a more attractive candidate all-around. "I want to give myself the best chance possible to play in college. I need to prepare myself for the academic side of college and get more football in."
After looking at different options, Sean and his family chose Hebron Academy in Hebron, Maine. The plan is to spend a year there, get some looks from schools, and earn him a scholarship to play in college. But Sean is grounded in his expectations. "A Division III scholarship would be great. I just want to keep playing. Joining the team so late, I didn't play much my senior year so didn't get many looks from schools."
But with his athletic background and rare size, Sean has the tools to play on the next level. And, in line with his philosophy of doing as much as possible to keep playing, he has spent nearly all summer at the IMG Academy football program. Working with the trainers at the Athletic & Personal Development program and notable on-field coaches such as Tom Pratt and Tom Nutten, he feels like he has picked up an extra two years of playing experience here in the eight weeks he has been at IMG.
On the field, Sean's technique has improved immensely. "I can stay down low, I can keep the blocks and guys I wouldn't even think I could go against, I can hold them every time now." At the Performance Institute, performance specialist Corey Stenstrup helps Sean with his agility and footwork; helping him become faster, quicker, and more athletic.
At the Hebron Academy Sean will play both offensive and defensive tackle. While he will have football, he'll be missing two of his biggest influences: Johnny and his father. "Besides getting me into football, he pushed me in practice every day to get better. He got me into the weight room on weekends. Behind him, my dad has influenced me the most athletically. He is so proud of me. He's at every game. He motivates me."
But if the fast connections he's made at IMG are any indication of what his circle of friends will be like in Maine, Sean need not worry. "I've made some good friends while I've been here. That has been my favorite part off the field- just hanging out with the guys that have come in and out of here since I've been here. We get together when there's down time and go play (EA Sports) Madden NFL. I became close friends with Justin (Haymes) and Meshack (Ledan). They helped me get better at football. I still keep in touch with them through Facebook."
Keeping with the theme, Sean's favorite part of football? "Togetherness." That sense of camaraderie has a strong hold on Sean. So much so that he's not quite ready to let go of his newfound love.